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VOL. I. 







VOL. I. 



Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1865, by 

in the Clerk s Office of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District 
of Pennsylvania. 

MA ? /O 


ON the 3rd of March 1837, Congress appropriated $30,000 
for the purchase of the MSS. of ME. MADISON referred to in a 
letter from Mrs. Madison to the President of the United States, 
dated 15 November, 1836 * 

On the 14th of October 1837, Congress passed an Act grant 
ing to Mrs. Madison the right to publish in foreign countries, 
for her own benefit, her husband s MS. Debates of the Con 
vention of 1787.f 

On the 9th of July 1838, Congress passed an Act authoriz 
ing the Library Committee to cause the Madison Papers to be 
printed and published, and appropriating $5,000 for the 
purpose. $ 

Those Papers were accordingly published in three vols. 8vo., 
Washington 1840, printed by Langtree and O Sullivan. They 
contain MR. MADISON S Eeports of Debates during the Congress 
of the Confederation, [1782, 1783, and 1787,] and in the Federal 
Convention of 1787 : Also letters to Greneral Washington, Mr. 
Jefferson, Mr. Eandolph, Mr. Pendleton, and Mr. Joseph Jones, 
and a few other letters, written during the period covered by 
those Eeports. [Yol. I. pp. 43 186, 469 580. Vol. II. 
pp. 615 682.] 

On the 31st of May 1848, Congress passed an Act appropri- 

* President s Message, December 6, 1836. Madison Papers, I. xvi, xvii. 
f Statutes at Large, v. 205. J Stat. L. v. 309. 


ating $25,000 to purchasing from Mrs. Madison all the unpub 
lished MSS. of her husband, etc. ; James Buchanan, John Y. 
Mason, and Eichard Smith, to be trustees to hold, etc., $20,000 
for her * 

On the 18th of August 1856, Congress appropriated $6,000 
to printing and publishing 1,000 copies of the Papers of MR. 
MADISON, then in the State Department, under the direction of 
the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress.f 

The publication now made under the last mentioned Act, is 
in four vols. 8vo. and contains letters of MR. MADISON, from 1769 
to 1836, being a period of more than sixty seven years. A few 
only of these letters are contained in the three volumes publish 
ed in 1840. 

To the papers referred to in the Act of 18 August 1856, the 
Library Committee have, in the present publication, made some 
additions. Among them are MR. MADISON S celebrated " Exam 
ination of the British doctrine, &c. ; &c.," written in 1806 ; his 
pamphlet entitled " Political Observations," published in 1795 ; 
some Essays, chiefly political, published in 1791 - 92 ; the 
Virginia proceedings of 1798, &c., which became a frequent 
subject of exposition with him in his later years. The Com 
mittee have also been enabled, through the courtesy of Mr. 
James C. McGuire of Washington City, to add from originals 
in his possession, MR. MADISON S statements in relation to Sec 
retaries Smith and Armstrong ; his apologue of " Jonathan and 
Mary Bull ; " his memorandum of Bollman s interview with 
President Jefferson, concerning Burr s conspiracy ; his letter on 
Napoleon s return from Elba ; his note for the Princess, now 
Queen, Victoria ; and his " Advice to my Country." 

* Stat. L. ix. 235. t Stat. L. xi. 117. 


The Chronological order of arrangement has been preferred, 
as being, on the whole, the most convenient. Any advantages 
of other plans are supposed to have been secured by the inser 
tion of an analytical table of Contents and an Index of letters 
for each volume, with a copious General Index to the whole 



1769.- [P. 13.] 

To Rev. Thomas Martin. Nassau Hall, Aug. 16 - 1 
Friendly salutations. President Blair s account of the College of New 
Jersey. " Britannia s Intercession for John Wilkes." Prospect of 
College life* Approaching examination - -1 

To James Madison. Nassau Hall, Sept. 30 - 2 

Commencement. Degrees confirmed. Honorary degrees 2 

Exercises, College honors, choice of tutors, &c. - 2, 3 

1770. [P. 4.] 

To James Madison. Nassau Hall, July 23 - 4 
Letter of New York Merchants burnt by the students in College yard. 

Increase of students - ... 4 

1771. [P. 4, 5.] 

To James Madison. Princeton, Oct. 9 ... 4 

Dr. Witherspoon s visit to Virginia .... 4 

1772. [P. 57.] 

To William Bradford, Jun. Orange, Va., Nov. 9 - - - 5 

Moral and religious considerations - .... 5 

Infirm health. History and the science of morals. Fops 6 

Is teaching his brothers and sisters. Personal allusions - - 6, 7 

1773. [P. 710.] 

To William Bradford, Jun. Orange, Va., April 28 7 
Punctiliousness in correspondence. "Candid remarks." Freneau s 

works, &c., &c. - 8 

To William Bradford. Orange, Va., Sept. 6 9 

Mr. Erwin s discourse, &c. - -10 

1774. [P. 1017.] 

To William Bradford, Jr. Jan. 24 - - - 10 

Proceedings in Philadelphia with regard to the tea - 10 
Obduracy, &c., of the Governor of Massachusetts. Evils of ecclesias 
tical establishments. History, belles lettres, &c., &c. - 10, 11 

Mr. Brackenridge. Manners, &c. Virginia. Persecution - - 12 

To William Bradford, Jr. Virginia, Orange County, April 1 13 
Mr. Brackenridge s illness. Religious liberty. The Clergy - - 13, 14 1 

Caspapini s letters. Correspondence of friends - 15 




1774, Continued. 

To William Bradford. Jr. July 1 - 15 

Public affairs. Indians. Sympathy in Virginia with the people of 

Boston. Rumor concerning Gov. Gage - - 16 

The fast and the Scotch clergymen. Dean Tucker s tracts - 17 

1775. [P. 1720.] 

To William Bradford. Virginia, Orange County, January 20 17 

Brackenridge s poem - 18 

Preparations for defence. The Quakers - 18, 19 

Logan s speech. Rev. Moses Allen - - - 19, 20 

1776. [P. 21 28.J 

To James Madison. Williamsburg, June 27 21 

The Convention. Rumor of maritime aid to Dunmore - 21 



1777. [P. 2830.] 

To James Madison. Orange, March - 28 

Case of Benjamin Haley, arrested for seditious language - 28 

1778. [P. 3032.] 

To James Madison. Williamsburg, January 23 30 

Dissuasion from resigning Lieutenancy of the County - - 30 

To James Madison. Williamsburg, March 6 - 31 

Effect in England of Burgoyne s surrender. Rumored rescue of pris 
oners by a New England privateer. Arrival of a cargo from Nantes. 
Treaty expected - 31 

1779. [P. 32, 33.] 

To Col. James Madison. Williamsburg, December 8 - ?,1 

Requisitions from Congress. Proposed tax on tobacco, &c. Prices - 32 
Suggestions for the instruction of a younger brother. College arrange 
ments. Bear skins, &c. - - 33 

1780. [P. 3441.] 

To Col. James Madison. Philadelphia, March 20 - - 34 

Depreciation of the paper currency. Financial scheme - 34 

To Edmund Pendleton. Philadelphia, October 3 - - 34 

Reported proceedings of Spain. Arnold s treason - - 35 

To Edmund Pendleton. Philadelphia, October 10 - - - 35 

Military movements. Rodney. Ternay. Guichen. Execution of Andrd. 

Smith. Arnold - ,. 36 

To Edmund Pendleton. Philadelphia, November 14 - 37 

Information from New York. Destruction of Schoharie. Exchange 

of prisoners. Gen. Washington. Rumors - - - - 37 



1780, Continued. 

To Edmund Pendleton. Philadelphia, No^. 21 38 

Embarkation at New York. Supposed purposes of the enemy - 38 

Information from J. Adams. Reported death of Gen. Woodford - 38, 39 

To Edmund Pendleton. Philadelphia. December 5 39 

Letters from Jay and Carmichael. Portugal, France, Spain - 39 

Tempest in the West Indies. Its effects - - - 40 

To Edmund Pendleton. Philadelphia, December - - 40 

Partial accession of Portugal to the neutral league - - 40 

Removal of Sartine, Minister of French Marine. Succeeded by De Cas 
tries. Laurens committed to the Tower - - - -41 

1781. [P. 4158.] 

To Edmund Pendleton. Philadelphia. January 23 - 41 
Discontents among the German troops in New York. Rumored pro 
ject of British Ministry - - 41 
France and Spain. Arnold s irruption - 42 
To Edmund Pendleton. Philadelphia, February - - 42 
Proposed exchange of C. Taylor. Admiralty Department - - 42 
Preparations of the enemy - - - 43 
To Edmund Randolph. Philadelphia, May 1 - 43 
Mr. Jefferson, and the defence of the title of Virginia - 43 
To Philip Mazzei. Philadelphia, July 7 - 44 
Summary of military events since 1779. Siege of Charleston. Battle 

of Camden - - 44 
Recall of Gates. Succeeded by Greene. Morgan defeats a detach 
ment of Cornwallis s best troops. Cornwallis s pursuit and retieat. 
Battle with Greene. Recovery of posts in South Carolina. Greene s 
operations. Progress in the re r.emption of Georgia - 45 
Cornwallis ? s advance into Virginia. Arnold. Fayette. Cornwallis 
at Chesterfield. Tarleton s expedition. Its full object defeated. 
Governor Jefferson declines a re-election. Nelson elected Gov 
ernor. Tarleton s retreat. Retreat of Cornwallis to Richmond, and 
thence to Williamsburg. Fayette s pursuit. Bellini - 46 
Conjectured movements in the Northern Department. Financial vicis 
situdes. Depreciation of old Continental bills - 47 
Probable financial improvement. R. Morris. Great advantage of the 

naval superiority of the enemy - 48 

Barbarities of the enemy in the Southern States. Moral effect - 49 

To Col. James Madison. Philadelphia, August 1 - - 50 

Russian offer of mediation. Gen. Washington s operations - 50 

Rumor of a proposed evacuation of Virginia. Speculators. Prices -50,51 

To Edmund Pendleton. Philadelphia, Sept. 18 51 

Rumors, De Banes. Digby. Arnold s blow on New London. Selfish 

projects of Spain. Washington. Rochambeau - - 51 

Advantages of Washington s presence in Virginia - - 52 



1781. Continued. 

To Edmund Pendleton. Phila., October 2 - -52 

Speech of C. J. Fox, &c. Intelligence from N. York - 52 
Digby. Impending fate of Cornwallis. Information from Europe. 

Objects deserving attention from the legislature of Virginia - 53 

To Edmund Pendleton. Phila., October 9 - 54 

Property of Virginia seized by Nathan - 54 

To Edmund Pendleton. Phila., October 16 - 54 

Defence of Mr. Jay. Situation of Cornwallis. Case of Nathan against 

Virginia - . 55 

To Edmund Pendleton. Phila., Nov. 27 56 
Arrival of Gen. Washington. Virginia proportion of men. Proceed 
ings in the Virginia Assembly on Territorial cessions. Influence of 

British reverses on the question of peace - - 56 

To Edmund Pendleton. Phila., Dec. 11 - - 57 
Harrison elected Governor of Virginia. Letters and obliquity of 

Deane. Proceedings of Congress. Requisitions on the States - 57 
To Edmund Pendleton. Phila., Dec. 25 - - 58 
Commodore Johnson s capture, &c., of Dutch vessels. Jefferson s hon 
orable acquittal, abilities, and patriotism - - 58 

1782. [P. 5861.] 

To James Madison. February 12 - . 58 

Remittances, books, &c. - - 59 

To Col. James Madison. Phila., March 30 - 59 

Conjectured plans of British Ministry - 59 

To James Madison. Phila., May 20 - - - 60 

Rivington s spurious publications. "William Madison. Jefferson s 

election to the Virginia legislature - - 60 

Continental money. Public duties, &c. - 60, 61 

1783. [P. 6166.] 

To James Madison. January 1 61 

Negotiations for peace. Oswald - 61 

To James Madison. Phila., February 12 61 

Rumors concerning peace. Fall in price of imported goods - 61 

To Thomas Jefferson. Phila., February 11 - - 62 

Anecdote concerning Franklin and A. Lee. Jefferson s detention at 

Annapolis. Proceedings of Congress. Valuation of the land - 62 

J. Adams. Franklin. E. Randolph - 63 

To Gen. Washington. Phila., April 29 64 

McHenry s merits. &c. - - 64 

To James Madison. Phila., May 27 - 64 

Books. J. Chew. Progress of the definitive treaty, &c. - 64, 65 

To James Madison. Philadelphia, June 5 - - - 65 

Newspapers. Pamphlet of Congress concerning Revenue - 65 



1784. [P. 66119.] 

To Edmund Randolph. Orange, March 10 - 66 

Legal studies. Coke Littleton - - 66 

Demand, by Executive of South Carolina, of a citizen of Virginia - 66, 67 
The propriety of surrendering fugitive offenders. Chastellux s work. 
" A notable work, &c." [Qu.: J. Adams s Essay on Canon and Feu 
dal laws?] - - 68 
To Thomas Jefferson. Orange, March 16 - 68 
Delay of the ratification of the peace. Question of international law 69 
Questions as to the competency of seven States to a Treaty of peace, 

to revoke a commission, &c. Historical argument - - 69, 70, 71 

Parliamentary meaning of " appropriation." Unaccountable error of 

opinion. Territorial cession - 72 

Effort of Pennsylvania for "Western Commerce. Virginia. Declen 
sion of Georgetown as a residence for Congress. Virginia politics. 
Executive Council. Henry. G. Mason - 73 

Boundary between Virginia and Maryland - - 74 

Studies and books. Buffon. Confederacies. Bynkershoeck. Wolfius. 

Hawkins s Abridgement of Co. Litt. Deane s letters - 75 

Spectacles. Surrender of a citizen of Virginia demanded by the Ex 
ecutive of South Carolina. Case stated, and questions arising 
on it - 76 

To Thomas Jefferson. Orange, April 25 - - 77 

Mazzei. His views towards a consulate, enmity to Franklin, and fa 
vorable opinion of J. Adams. Henry s present politics. Meteoro- 
. logical Diary - - 78 

Case of the Potowmac. Policy of Baltimore, &c. Proposition of Vir 
ginia to arm Congress with certain powers. Recent change in the 
British Ministry. Interrogatories. Discovery of a subterraneous 
city in Siberia. Equestrian statue - - 79 

Catharine 2d and Buffon - 80 

To Thomas Jefferson. Richmond. May 15 - 80 

Projected revisal of the Constitution of Virginia. R. H. Lee. Henry 80 
To Col. James Madison. Richmond, June 5 - 81 

Proceedings of the General Assembly of Virginia - 82 





To George Washington. Richmond, July 2 85 

Efforts in the Legislature of Virginia for the benefit of Thomas Paine. 

Prejudices against him. Arthur Lee - - - 85, 86 

To Thomas Jefferson. Richmond, July 3 - 86 

Private business for his <fc countrymen." Act assigning to Congress 

1 per cent, of the land tax, per cent, impost on trade - 86 

Acts laying certain duties for the foreign creditors of the State. Nor- 



1784. Continued. 

folk, Alexandria, York, Tappahannock, and Bermuda hundred, es- 
A tablished as ports. British Debts. Protest in the Senate. Effort 
/ ! for a State Convention. Henry s opposition 

.( Petitions for a general assessment. Project of the Episcopal clergy. 
\ Henry preserves it from a dishonorable death. Discourse. Sale 
f of public lands at Richmond. Seat of State Government fixed. 
Lands about Williamsburg given to the University. Their value. 
Lottery for encouragement of Maury s school - 88 

Revisal to be printed. Frivolous economy. Failure of effort for re 
muneration of Paine. Appointed, together with three others. Com 
missioners to negotiate with Maryland in establishing regulations 
for the Potomac. W. Maury s school. Jefferson s nephews - 89 

Slave tax. Confusion in the Revenue Department. Unskilful draft 
ing of resolutions. Scheme for opening the navigation of the Poto 
mac under the auspices of Gen. Washington - 89, 90 
To Thomas Jefferson. Orange, August 20 - 90 
Pamphlet on W. I. trade. Deane s letters. Public opinion in Vir 
ginia said to disapprove the proceedings of the Legislature con 
cerning British debts. Amending State Constitution - 90 
Act restraining foreign trade to enumerated ports. Objections - 90, 91 
Striking facts in favor of a general mart. Discrimination in favor of 
citizens. Effect of Independence on prices. Tobacco, hemp, wheat, 
corn. Chinch-bug - - 91, 92 
Views of the probable policy of Spain as to the navigation of the Mis 
sissippi. General interest of Europe as bearing on the American 
doctrine - 93, 94 
Influence of the free use of the Mississippi on the settlement of the 

Western country - 96 

Necessity of a right to the use of the Spanish shores, and of holding 

an entrepot, or using N. Orleans as a free port - 97 

Floating magazines. "The Englishman s turn." Batonrouge. Point 
Coupfc. Suggestion of purchasing from Spain a portion of ground, 
&c. A joint tribunal for adjusting disputes between the Spaniards 
and Americans suggested. Treaty of Munster - - 97, 98 

British use of the Spanish shore. Construction of a stipulation in 

Treaty of 17G3. Jefferson s nephews - 98. 99 

To Thomas Jefferson. Philadelphia, September 7 - 99 

Fayette. Navigation of the Mississippi. Interests of France. Sup 
posed purpose of Spain. Probable interregnum of the Federal Gov 
ernment for some time. Messages of friendship, &c., &c. - 100, 101 
To Thomas Jefferson. New York, September 15 - - 101 

Change of traveling route. Fayette. Accounts of Indian ravages, 

&c. - 101, 102 

To Thomas Jefferson. New York, October 11 102 

Marbois. Arrival at Fort Schuyler. Fayette and the Indians - 102 



1784. Continued 

Obstacles to treaty. British retention of the posts ... 103 
To Thomas Jefferson. Philadelphia, October 17 - - 104 

Cypher. Post office espionage in Europe. Fayette, Arthur Lee, 

and the Indians - 104, 105, 106 

Traits of Fayette s character. Case of Longchamps. Mrs. Trist 106, 107 
To James Monroe. Richmond, November - - 107 

Cypher. Arrivals of General Washington and Fayette - 107 

Balloting for public offices. Elections and rejections - 107, 108 

To James Monroe. Richmond, November 14 ... 108 

Monroe s critical escape. Indians. Spaniards. Proposed suspen 
sion of land surveys, negotiations, river surveys, &c., &c. Scheme 
for general assessment. Presbyterian clergy. Successor to Har 
rison. Henry. Variances in the Council - 108, 109 
To James Monroe. Richmond, Nov. 27 ... 109 
Negotiations of New York with the Indians. Federal articles bearing 
on the question. Proviso. Rule of construction. Ignominious se 
cession at Annapolis. Case of Ho well - - 110 
Affair of M. de Marbois. Proposition to authorise Congress to refuse 
the surrender of offenders, in certain cases, and under certain cir 
cumstances, to foreign powers. Bill for a religious assessment. 
Henry. Circuit Courts, &c. - .... m 
To Col. James Madison. Richmond, Nov. 27 112 
Proceedings of the Legislature - ... 112 
To James Monroe. Richmond, Dec. 4 .... 112 
British debts. Religious assessment. Henry. Bust of Fayette - 113 
To James Monroe. Richmond, Dec. 17 - 114 
Revisal of the laws. Religious freedom. Mercer. Corbin - - 114 
To James Monroe. Richmond. Dec. 24 - - 114 
Proposition to empower Congress to carry into effect the imposts - 114 
Act empowering Congress to surrender citizens of the State to the 
sovereign demanding them, for certain crimes committed within his 
jurisdiction. Concurrent provision for State punishment. The In 
dians. Assize courts. General assessment - - 115 


To RichaidJSCnryTiee! Richmond, Dec. 25 117 

/i Lee r s election as President of Congress. Assize bill - 117 

1 General assessment bill. Episcopal church. British debts. Bills for 
> opening the Potowmac and James rivers, and for water surveys. 

Proposition to empower Congress to collect impost within Virginia 118 
Project of a Continental Convention. Union of the States essential, 

&c. Inefficacy, &c., of the present system: 1785. [P.119 211.] 118,119 
To General Washington. Richmond, January 1 - 119 

Acts for river surveys. Resolution for settling the jurisdiction of the 
Potomac, &c. - - - - - - - 119, 120 



1 785 . Continued. 
To James Monroe. Richmond, January 8 - - 120 

Political arrangements. R. H. Lee. R. R. Livingston - 120 

Variance with Great Britain. Her probable policy. Spain. Natural 
right of the Western country to the use of the Mississippi. Difficulty 
as to cypher - - 121 

Bills concerning Potomac and James Rivers, and presenting shares 

to Gen. Washington - - 122 

To Thomas Jefferson. Richmond, January 9 - 122 

Proceedings of the General Assembly of Virginia. Act for the estab 
lishment of the Courts of Assize. Henry previously elected Gov 
ernor. Particulars concerning the Assize Act. Acts for opening, 
&c., Potowmac and James rivers - - 123 

The subject brought forward under Gen. Washington s auspices. 
Memorials, &c. 123, 124 

Agency of Gen. Washington at Annapolis, concerning the Potomac. 
The James river bill. Road to Cheat river, &c. - - 125 

Projected survey for a canal between Elizabeth river and North Caro 
lina. Considerations leading to the Act vesting in G. Washington 
a certain interest in the companies for opening James and Potomac 
rivers. His earnestness in the public object, showing that his mind 
" capable of great views, and which has long been occupied with 
them, cannot bear a vacancy " - 127 

Act remitting half the tax for 1785 - 127, 128 

Act giving James Rumsey the exclusive privilege of constructing 
and navigating certain boats for a limited time. General ridicule 
of Rumsey s invention. Washington s opinion of its reality and im 
portance. Acts authorizing the surrender of a citizen in certain 
cases, &c., to a foreign Sovereign. Authorities - 128, 129 

Act incorporating the Protestant Episcopal church. Objections, &c. 130 

British Debts. Jones. Henry. Memorials, &c., &c. Thr^teglslation 
on this subject left incomplete, from a singular cause. Bill concern 
ing depreciated payments into the Treasury. Abortive proposition 
concerning the collection of the impost by Congress. Complaint of 
the French Vice Consul 133 

Henry elected successor to Governor Harrison. Amendment of the 
State Constitution. Petitions from Western Virginia for a separate 
Government. Arthur Campbell. Revisal. Compensation to the 
acting members of the Committee - - 134 

To Edmund Randolph. Orange, March 10 - - 135 

European affairs. Kentucky Convention - 135 

To Marquis Fayette. Orange, March 20 - - 136 

Navigation of the Mississippi. Future population and prospects. 
Spain, Great Britain, nature, philosophy, and commerce - 136. 137 

Narrow policy of Spain. Favorable sentiments of other European 
powers. France. Philanthropy of Louis 16 138,139 


1785. Continued. 

Domestic affairs. Act of Virginia vesting in G. Washington shares, 
&c., &c. Juridical system. jBilLfox jjoj^oifttiaff-ettf- Religious sys 
tem." Anomalous condition of the act for paying British debts - 140 
To James Monroe. Orange, March 21 - 141 

Jay. Question of etiquette. Foreign Department - - 141 

Movement in Kentucky towards an independent Government - 142 

To James Monroe. Orange, April 12 - 143 

Appointment of J. Adams as Minister to London. Jefferson. Consu 
lar arrangements. Maury. Western posts. Massachusetts and 
Rhode Island, &c. - - 143 

The 8th article of the Confederation. GejoejaLAssessment Act of Vir- 

ginia. Sectarian opinions. A new cypher - - 144 

To Thomas Jefferson. Orange, April 27 - 145 

Natural philosophy. Pamphlets. Claim of Le Maire. Literary wants. 

Felice. De Thou. Moreri - - 145 

Treaties on Federal Republics. Law of nations. History of the New 
World. Greek and Roman authors. Historians of the Roman Em 
pire. PaschaL Ulloa, Linnaeus, Ordonnances Marines. French tracts 
on economies of different nations. Amelot s travels. Continua 
tion of Buffon. New invented lamp. Pocket compass - - 146 

Tax on transfers of land. Tax on law proceedings. Kentucky Con 

vention. Scheme for independence - - 147 

Uncertainty whether or not Washington will accept the shares voted 
to him. Ramsey s Invention. Report of Maryland and Virginia 
Commissioners concerning the jurisdiction of Potowmac. Bills in 
the General Assembly of Virginia. Elections. Carter, Harrison, 
Tyler, Arthur Lee. Fayette. Navigation of the Mississippi. Folly 
of Spain 148, 149 

Jefferson s nephews. Maury s school. Weather - 150 

Invitation to visit Jefferson in France. Subterraneous city discovered 

in Sibena. Deaths - 151, 152 

To James Monroe. Orange, April 28 - 152 

Cypher. Elections. Pendleton, Nicholas, Fry, Harrison, &c. - 152 

Disorders of Coin. Weights and measures. Mint. Proposed stand 

ard of measures and of weights. Importance of uniformity - 153 

To James Monroe. Orange, May 29 - 153 

Territorial fund. Western posts. Navigation of the Mississippi. Cer 

tificates for discharging interest of home debt - 153 

Proposed separation of Kentucky. Rumor that a State has been set 
up in the back country of North Carolina. Clause for Township 
support of Religion. Opinions - - 154 

T9 James Monroe. Orange, June 21 - 155 

~Eill_for establishing the Christian religion in ViEgtBia. Commission 
ers from TJeorgfaTTo the^anisTi^oveTnTJr^f New Orleans. Out 
rage on the Federal Constitution - - ... 155 



1785. Continued. 
Commercial discontents in Boston, &c. British monopoly df trade < 

with Virginia. Prices - 156 

To R. H. Lee. Orange, July 7 157 

Interest of Virginia to part with Kentucky. Congress ought to be 
made a party to a voluntary dismemberment of a State. Reasons 
for this opinion - 157 

Arrival of Gardoqui. The Mississippi. Western posts. British mo 
nopoly. Deane s intercepted letters. Deplorable condition of 
trade. Prices. Weather. Crops - 158, 159 

To Edmund Randolph. Orange, July 26 - - 159 

Ecclesiastical journal. Objections to a legal salary annexed to the 
t\ title of a parish priest. Gen. Washington and the negotiation with 

j Pennsylvania. Mason. Fayette. Neckar. The Mississippi. Spain 1GO 
\ / Incorporating act. Course of reading. The bar. Slave labor. Pro 
jects of speculation and travel - 161 


To James Monroe. Orange, August 7 - 169 

Proposed change of the 9th article of the Confederation - 109 

The power of regulating trade ought to be a Federal power. Perfect 
freedom of trade, to be attainable, must be universal. Exclusive 
policy of Great Britain. Retaliating regulations necessary. These 
to be effectuated only by harmony in the measures of the States 169, 170 
Importance of amending defects in the Federal system - 171 

Answer to objections against entrusting Congress with a power over 

trade. Difficulties - - 172 

To Thomas Jefferson. Orange, August 20 - - 173 

Machinations of Great Britain with regard to commerce. Desired 
augmentation of the power of Congress. Feeling in Virginia against 
Great Britain, and apathy as to commerce - - 173 

Paris. Surmise as to British policy. Internal trade. Evil of long 

credits to the consumer - 174 

Conjectural explanation of the dissolution of the Committee of States 
at Annapolis. Fayette s foibles and favorable traits of character. 
General Assessment. Remonstrance against it. Mutual hatred of 
the Presbyterians and the Episcopalians. Circuit Courts. Potow- 
mac company. James river - - 175 

Revised Code. Crops. Prices. Ex-Governor Harrison. Withdrawing 

from nomination. Travel. A project - 176 

To John Brown, (Kentucky.) Orange, August 23 - - 177 

Parental ties. Ideas towards a Constitution for Kentucky. The Legis 
lative Department ought to include a Senate. The Senate of Mary 
land a good model. That of Virginia a bad one. The other branch. 
The extent of Legislative power in many respects necessarily indefi 
nite. Subjects proper for Constitutional inhibition. Advantage of 



1785. Continued. 

the New York Council of revision - 178 

Project and functions of a Select Standing Committee. Executive 

Department in State Governments. Objections to it in Virginia 178, 179 
Judiciary Department. Importance of an independent tenure and 
liberal salaries. A separate Court of Chancery advisable. Repro 
bation of Virginia County Courts. Tribunal of impeachment ; how 
it should be constituted. Right of suffrage. Mode of suffrage. 
Ballot. Plan of representation. Rights of property 180, 181 

Annual, triennial, septennial elections considered in reference to the 

different departments of power - - 182 

Union of different offices in one person - - 183 

Periodical review of a Constitution, &c. 183, 184 

The Mississippi. Constitutions of the several States, printed by order 

of Congress - 184, 185 



The Senate. A term of six years not more than sufficient - - 185 

Objections to appointment of Senators by Districts - 186 

A property qualification for voters considered 187, 188 

Ballot compared with viva voce voting. Exclusions. Ministers of the \ 
Gospel. Re-eligibility of members after accepting offices of profit. ^ 
Limits of power. Capital punishment. Prohibition of pardon - 189 

Election of Governor. Council of State. Appointments to office. 
Detail to be avoided in the Constitutional regulation of the Judi- 

. ciary Department. Court of Appeals. Court of Impeachment. 
Objections to the plan proposed. Desiderata in such a Court 190, 191 

Trial by Jury. Council of Revision. Extension of the writ of Habeas 
Corpus. Emergencies. Proposed exemption of the Press in every 
case of true fads - - 195 

To Thomas Jefferson. Philadelphia, Oct. 3 - 195 

Journey. Disordered affairs of the Confederacy. Efforts of Congress. 
Desiderata. Unauthorised expenses of the States. Apportionment 
of common debt. Desired powers to Congress to enforce payment 
of State quotas, and over trade. R. H. Lee. Grayson. Monroe. 
Hardy. Proceedings in certain States 196, 197 

African slave trade. S. Carolina. Dr. Franklin s arrival. Washing 
ton declines the shares voted to him, &c. - - 198 
To General Washington. Richmond, Nov. 11 - 199 

The shares. Contest for the chair. Prospect of the adoption of the 
Revised Code. Petition for a general manumission. Distresses of 
trade. Power over it proposed to be given to Congress. Braxton s 
counter propositions. Reports on navigation. Pamphlet attributed 
to St. George Tucker - 200, 201 





1785. Continued. 

To Thomas Jefferson. Richmond, Nov. 15 - - 202 

Jefferson s notes. The Revisal - - 203 

To James Monroe. Richmond, Dec. 9 - 203 

Trade. Suggested convention of Commissioners at Annapolis - 203 
Assize bill. The Revisal. Criminal bill. Mercer. Coldness of mem 
bers from Kentucky as to immediate separation - - 204 
To Gen. Washington. Richmond, Dec. 9 - - 205 
The Commercial propositions. Sacrifices of sovereignty on which the 

Federal Government rests. Difficulties - 205 

Proposed Convention at Annapolis. Alexandria. Exceptional liber 
ality and light of its mercantile interest, with regard to a navigation 
act. The Revisal. Public credit. Assize and Port bills - 206, 207 

Projected canal between Virginia and North Carolina. Memorial of 

Kentucky for Independence. Terms of separation - 207, 208 

To James Monroe. Richmond, Dec. 24 - - 208 

r ^Proceedings of the Legislature. Bills concerning Religious Freedom, 
British debts, Proprietary interest in tfi6~NbrIh^rn Neck~7aS3TEe 
County Courts - 208, 209 

To James Monroe. Richmond, Dec. 30 - - 210 

Discussions concerning British debts, and changes in the bill. Dis 
paragements of the Treaty. J. Adams 210 
Impracticability of rendering the county courts fit instruments of jus 
tice. Business depending. Compact with Maryland 211 

1786. [P. 211269.] 

To Thomas Jefferson. Richmond, January 22 - 211 

Jefferson s Notes. Arrival of books - - - 211 

Harrison elected Speaker. Question of residence. Arthur Lee. 
Question of holding office, &c. Progress of Revisal. Crimes and 
punishments. Religious Freedom - 212, 213 

List of Acts not incIudecTiif the revisal - - 214 220 

Fayette. Shares voted to Gen. Washington. Conditional pardons. 
Alien law. Quit-rents. County Courts. Papers. Courts of As 
size - 214, 215 
Appointment of Commissioners to Annapolis - - 216 
Opposition of Thruston, the Speaker, and Corbin. Port bill. British 

debts. Gradual abolition of slavery. Private manumissions 216, 217 
Itch for paper money. Postponed tax. Kentucky an independent 

State - - 218 

Militia Law. Escheat law. Lord Fairfax s lands. Attempts to dis 
member the State. Arthur Campbell s faction - - 219 
Appropriating Act. Salaries. Tonnage on British vessels. Canal in 

N.Carolina. Family affairs. Peter Carr s studies. Le Maire - 220 

Large fish bones found in sinking wells. Promotions. Prices - 221 

To James Monroe. Richmond, January 22 - 221 



1786. Continued. 

Adjournment of the Legislature. A previous statement corrected. 
Navigation system for the State. Tyler, c. Commissioners to An 
napolis. Particulars concerning their appointment. Defects of cer 
tain bills for complying with the demand of Congress. Economical 
revision of the Civil list 222, 223 

To Thomas Jefferson. Orange, March 18 - 224 

The Capitol. Books received. Le Maire. Copying press - - 225 

Meeting of deputies from Virginia to the Commercial Convention. 
Tendency of separate regulations by the States. Deficiencies of pay 
ments by the States under calls from Congress - 225, 226 

Balance of trade. Importance of the proposed Convention. Difficul 
ties and dangers. Prices - - 226, 227, 228 
To James Monroe. Orange, March 19 - 228 

A Convention preferable to gradual reforms of the Confederation. 

Temper of the Assembly, &c. - - 229 

To James Monroe. Orange, April 9 - - 229 

Action in New Jersey. Gloomy prospect of preserving the Union of 
the States. The impost. Materially short of the power which Con 
gress ought to have as to trade 229, 230 
To Thomas Jefferson. Orange, May 12 - 230 

Jefferson s Notes. Books. Pedometer. &c. Inscription for the statue 

[of Washington.] Houdon s criticism - 231 

Fayette and Rochambeau. Changes in the late elections. G. Mason, 

George and John Nicholas, Monroe, Mercer, Bland, &c. - - 232 

Refusal of Maryland to appoint deputies for the proposed Convention. 
Internal situation of Virginia. Prices. Kentucky. Skirmish with 
the savages. Scheme of Independence said to be growing unpopu 
lar. Dabney Carr . - 233 

Peccan nuts. Sugar tree. Opossums. Buffon. Fallow and Roedeer 
not native quadrupeds of America. The Chevruel. The Monax. 
The Marmotte of Europe 234, 235 

Moles. Buffon s theory. His cuts of Quadrupeds - 236, 237 

To James Monroe. Orange, May 13 237 

Two Conventions, concurrent as to time, and, in part, as to powers. 
Consequent embarrassment, and proposed expedient. Change in 
the late elections. Mercer s pamphlet - 237 

Mason, &c. Forcing trade to Norfolk and Alexandria. Kentucky. 

Disquiet from the savages. Proposed separation - 238 

To James Monroe. Orange, June 4 - 238 

Proposed journey. Information from the back country. Death of 

Col. W. Christian. Kentucky. Paper money - 239 

To James Monroe. Orange, June 21 239 

Amazing thought of surrendering the Mississippi, and guarantying the 
possessions of Spain in America. Objections to these projects. Ad 
justment of claims and accounts - 239, 240, 241 



1786. Continued. 

To Thomas Jefferson. Phila., Aug. 12 - 242 

Ride through Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Crops - 242 

Harper s Ferry. Works on the Potowmac. Negotiation for canal 

from the head of Chesapeake to the Delaware 242, 243 

Rage for paper money. Pennsylvania and North Carolina. South 
Carolina. New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, 
Connecticut, and New Hampshire. Senate of Maryland. Virginia. 
G. Mason 244, 245 

States appointing and not appointing deputies to Annapolis. Discour 
agements of the hope to render the meeting subservient to a pleni 
potentiary Convention for amending the Constitution 245, 246 
Spanish politics. Temporary occlusion of the Mississippi, and abso 
lute negative of the American claim. Embarrassment of personal 
situation. The Impost. British debts. Paradise s claim - - 247 
Ubbo Emmius - - 248 
To James Monroe. Phila., Aug. 15 - - 248 
Jay s proposition for shutting up the Mississippi for 25 years - 248 
To James Monroe. Phila., Aug. 17 - - 248 
Principles proposed by Monroe and Grayson for negotiations with 

Spain. Want of cypher 248, 249 

To James Monroe. Annapolis, Sept. 11 - - 249 

Prospect of a breaking up of the meeting, &c. - - 250 

To James Monroe. Phila., Oct. 5 - 250 

Alarming progression of a certain measure. Not expedient, because 
not just. The maxim, " that the interest of the majority is the po 
litical standard of right and wrong," considered - - 251 
To James Monroe. Richmond, October 30 - - 251 
Navigation of the Mississippi. Paper money. Henry declines re-elec 
tion as Governor of Virginia, Randolph and R. H. Lee. Appoint 
ments to Congress - - 251. ?52 
To Col. James Madison. Richmond, Nov. 1 - 253 
Large vote denouncing paper money. Revenue matters. Henry de 
clines re-election as Governor. His probable successor. Commo 
tions in Massachusetts. Relative strength and suspected aims of the 
discontented 253, 254 
To Gen. Washington. Richmond, Nov. 8 - 254 
Vote against a paper emission. Jay s project. Report from the Dep 
uties to Annapolis. Henry. Randolph. R. H. Lee. James. Mar 
shall. Nominations for Congress - 252, 2 "3 
To Gen. Washington. Richmond, Nov. 8 - - - 254 
Shay s Rebellion in Massachusetts. Votes against paper money; 
against applying a scale of depreciation to military certificates ; 
and for complying with the recommendation from Annapolis in 
favor of a general revision of the Federal system. Washington to 



/86 Continued. 

be placed at the head of the delegates from Virginia to the proposed 
Federal Convention ... . 254, 255 

E. Randolph elected Governor of Virginia. The vote. Col. H. Lee. 255 
Combination of the Indians threatening the frontier of the U. States. 
Party in Congress in favor of surrendering the Mississippi. Ques 
tion of independence in Kentucky. Domestic - 255 

TO PAPER MONEY - - 255 257 

To Col. James Madison. Richmond, Nov. 16 - 257 

Want of a Senate. Indents. Bill making Tobacco receivable in pay 
ment of taxes. Certificate tax .... 257 
To Col. James Madison. Nov. 24 - - 257 
Tobacco bill passed. Objections to an equality of price - - 257 
To Thomas Jefferson. Richmond, December 4 - 259 
Unanimous vote for a Plenipotentiary Convention in Phila. - - 259 
Unanimous Resolutions of the House of Delegates against the project 

for bartering the Mississippi to Spain 259, 260 

Paper money. Public securities. The consideration of the Revised 
Code resumed. Necessity for a supplemental Revision, &c. Bill 
proportioning crimes and punishments. Education. Pendleton. 
Wythe. Blair. Reform, according to the Assize plan, desperate. 
. District Courts. Impolitic measures of the last session - - 261 

Attempt to repeal the Port bill. Mason. British debts. Public ap 
pointments. Bland. Prentis. Ex-Speaker Harrison. E. Randolph 
elected Governor. His competitors, Bland and R. H. Lee. Delega 
tion to Congress. H. Lee reinstated. Vacancy in the council. 
Boiling Starke. Griffin. Innes. Marshall. Weather. Crops. 
Prices - 261, 262 

To Gen. Washington. Richmond, Dec. 7 - 263 

Reasons for his accepting his appointment to the Convention - - 263 

Unfavorable influence on Virginia of the project of Congress on the 
Mississippi question. Henry "hitherto the champion of the Fed 
eral cause" . 264 
Improper legislation to be expected. Tobacco. District Court 

Bill 264, 265 

To Col. James Madison. Richmond, Dec. 12 _ 265 

Tobacco. Resolutions concerning the Mississippi. Port bill. Dis 
trict Court bill - 265 
Taxes on fees of lawyers, on Clerks, riding carriages. Convention in 

Kentucky - 266 

To James Monroe. Richmond, Dec. 21 . 266 

Legislature of Virginia. District Courts. Paper money in Mary 
land - 266, 267 
To Gen. Washington, Richmond, Dec. 24 - . 267 



1786. Continued. 

Difficu ties opposing his accepting the appointment to the Convention 267 
Tobaccc as u commutable. Defeated projects of Paper money. Grad 
uating certificates. Instalments. A property tender. Failure of plan 
for reforming the administration of justice. Rage for drawing all 
income from trade. Port bill. Revised Code. Bills concerning 
Education, Executions, Crimes and punishments. Reason of the 
Virginia Senate for negativing a bill defining the privileges of Am 
bassadors 268, 269 

1787. [P. 269368.] 

To Edmund Pendleton. Richmond, January 9 - 269 

District bill. General Court. County Courts. Negative merit on the 
score of justice - 269 

Revised Code. Supplemental revision. A succession of revisions 
commended - - 270 

Regret at the necessity of imposing future labors on Pendleton, Wythe, 
and Blair. Rage for high duties. Prudence of the Senate. Swift s 
remark. Manufactures. A prevailing argument considered - 271 

The seditious party at the Eastward in communication with the Vice 
roy of Canada - - 272 
To Thomas Jefferson. New York, February 15 - - 272 

Recent Legislative proceedings. Rejection of the bill on crimes and 
punishments. Rage against horse-stealers. Bill for diffusing knowl 
edge. Revisal at large. Reasons for imperfect action on the sys 
tem. Committee to amend unpassed bills. Critical question with 
the friends of revisal - 272, 273 

Henry. Religion. District Court. Taxes on lawyers, clerks, doctors, 
town houses, riding carriages, &c., c. Calonne. Duties on trade. 
Tobacco 274 

The Mississippi. Jay s project. Deputies from Virginia to the Con 
vention for amending the Federal Constitution. Action and expect 
ations on that subject in the Carolinas, Maryland, Delaware, Penn 
sylvania. New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, 
and Rhode Island - - 275 

To Gen. Washington. New York, Feb. 21 - 276 

Meeting of Congress. Objects depending. Treaty of peace. Rec 
ommendation of proposed Federal Convention 276 

Politics of New York. From States North of it. S. Carolina, Georgia, 
&c., &c. Maryland. Rebellion in Massachusetts nearly extinct. 
Proposed punishments. - 277 

Political opinions. Monarchy unattainable. Republic to be preserved 
only by redressing the ills experienced from present establishments. 
Virginia the only State making provision for the late requisition 277, 278 
To Edmund Pendleton. New York, February 24 - - 278 

Lincoln s dispersion of the main body of Massachusetts insurgents. 



1787. Continued. 
Escape of principal incendiaries - - 278 

Congress recommends proposed Convention. Dispositions, &c., of 
New York and other States. Discredit, impotence, &c., of the pres 
ent system - 278, 279 

Insurrection in Massachusetts. Infamous scenes in Rhode Island. A 
partition of the Union into three or more governments, a lesser than 
existing and apprehended evils, but a great one. Reorganization 
necessary - 280 

To Col. James Madison. New York, Feb. 25 - 280 

Lincoln s success against the insurgents in Massachusetts. Contumacy 

of Connecticut. General distrust, &c. 280, 281 

To Gen. Washington. New York, March 18 - 281 

Application of the Russian Empress for the Aboriginal vocabularies. 
Sample of Cherokee and Choctaw dialects. Appointments for the 
Convention. Deputies from Georgia, S. Carolina, N. York, Massa 
chusetts. N. Hampshire. Instance of political jealousy in the legis 
lature of N. York. Thinness of Congress. Calm restored in Massa 
chusetts. Its continuance doubtful. Terms of proffered amnesty 
rejected by half of the insurgents - 281, 282 

Proposition for relinquishing the claim of N. York to Vermont, and 
admitting Vermont into the Confederacy. Agitation at Pittsburg, 
caused by the reported intention of Congress concerning the Missis 
sippi. Apprehensions from that policy. Refusal by Henry of his 
mission to Phila. 283, 284 

To Thomas Jefferson. N. York, March 19 - - 284 

Appointments for the Convention. Deputies from Massachusetts, N. 
York. S. Carolina. Prospect of appointments from Rhode Island, 
Connecticut, and Maryland. Deputies from Virginia - 284 

Difficulties of the experiment. Proper foundations of the new system: 
1. Popular ratifications. 2. Power of regulating trade, &c. Neg 
ative in all cases on the local Legislatures. 3. Change in the prin 
ciple of representation, <fcc. 4. Distribution of Federal powers 285, 286 
To Col. James Madison. New York, April 1 - 286 

The approaching Convention. Appointments made and expected. 
Connecticut and Maryland. Motive of the refusal of Rhode Island. 
Uncertain issue of the Convention - 286, 287 

To Gen. Washington. N. York, April 16 - - 287 

Washington s views of necessary Reform. Temporising and radical 
measures compared. Individual independence of the States irrec- 
oncileable with their aggregate sovereignty. Consolidation into a 
single Republic inexpedient and unattainable. Middle course. 
Change in principle of representation 287, 288 

Authority of the National Government to be positive and complete in 
all cases requiring uniformity. A negative in all cases on the Le 
gislative acts of the States, as heretofore exercised by the King s 



1787. Continued. 

prerogative. Advantages of this principle. National supremacy 
to be extended to the Judiciary. Oaths of the Judges. Admiralty 
jurisdiction - 288, 289 

Executive Departments. Militia. Two branches of the Legislative 
Department. How, and for how long, to be chosen. Functions of 
the smaller body. Council of Revision. National Executive. Opin 
ion as to its constitution and powers yet unformed. Right of co 
ercion should be expressly declared. Necessity of operating by force 
on the collective will of a State to be avoided* Negative on the 
laws may answer this purpose. Or some defined objects of taxation 
might be submitted, along with commerce, to the general authority. 
Ratifications to be obtained from the People, and not merely from 
the ordinary authority of the Legislatures - - 290 

Address to States on the Treaty of peace. Thinness of Congress. 

Public accounts and lands. Arrangements with Spain - 290, 291 
Differences as to place for the reassembling of Congress. Philadel 
phia. N. York. Permanent seat for the National Government. 
Discontents in Massachusetts. Electioneering. Paper money. Ver 
mont - 291, 292 
RAL CONVENTION OF 1787 - 293315 
Lycian Confederacy. Extracts from Ubbo Emmius - 293, 294 
Amphictyonic Confederacy. Seat. Federal authority. Vices of the 

Constitution - - 294, 295, 296 

Achcean Confederacy. Federal Authority. Extracts from Ubbo Em 
mius, Vices of the Constitution - -296,297,298 
Helvetic Confederacy. Federal Authority. Vices of the Constitu 
tion - 298, 299, 300, 301, 302 
Belgic Confederacy. Federal Authority. States General. Powers, &c. 
Reservations to the provinces. Restrictions on the provinces. Coun 
cil of State. Chamber of Accounts. College of Admiralty. The 
Stadtholder. His powers. Vices of the Constitution 

302, 303, 304, 305, 306, 307, 308, 309 

Germanic Confederacy. The Diet. The Emperor. Federal Authority. 
The Ban of the Empire. The Circles. Imperial chamber. Aulic 
Council. Restrictions on the members of the Empire. Prerogatives 
of the Emperor. Vices of the Constitution - 309, 310, 311, 312, 314, 315 
To James Monroe. N. York, April 19 - 315 

Domestic. The Mississippi. Motion to remove to Philadelphia, &c. 

Objections, &c. 315, 316 

To Edmund Pendleton. New York, April 22 - 316 

The malcontents in Massachusetts. Their electioneering projects. 
Governor Bowdoin displaced. Hancock s merits tainted by obse 
quiousness to popular follies. Prospect of a full Convention. No 
appointments yet from Connecticut, Maryland, and Rhode Island. 



1787. Continued. 

Doubtful issue of the crisis. Causes of apprehension - 317 

Congress. The Treaty of peace. Deliberations concerning the West 
ern lands, and criminal and civil administration for the Western 
settlements. Affair with Spain. Danger of a paper emission in Vir 
ginia. Henry - - 318 
To Thomas Jefferson. April 23 - - 319 
Insurrection in Massachusetts. County elections in Virginia. Paper 
Money. Henry. Mason. Monroe. Marshall. Ludwell Lee. Har 
rison - - 319 
NOTES ON THE CONFEDERACY. Vices of the political system of the U. 

States - - 319328 

I. Failure of the States to comply with the Constitutional requisitions. 
2. Encroachments by the States on the federal authority. 3. Viola 
tions of the law of nations and of treaties - - 320 

4. Trespasses of the States on the rights of each other. 5. Want of 
concert in matters where common interest requires it - 321 

C. Want of Guaranty to the States of their Constitutions and laws 
against internal violence. 7. Want of sanction to the laws, and of 
coercion in the Government of the Confederacy - - 322 

8. Want of ratification by the people of the articles of Confederation 323 

9. Multiplicity of laws in the several States. 10. Mutability of the 

laws of the States - 324 

II. Injustice of the laws of the States - - 325 
To Thomas Jefferson. Philadelphia, May 15 - 328 

Day for meeting of Convention. Thin attendance. Arrival of Gen. 

Washington, amid the acclamations of the People, &c. - - 328 

To Edmund Pendleton. Philadelphia, May 27 - - 328 

Delay in making up quorum of seven States. Gen. Washington unan 
imously called to the chair. Major Jackson, Secretary. Committee 
for preparing rules appointed 328, 329 

To Col. James Madison. Philadelphia, May 27 - - 329 

Proceedings of the Convention. Conduct of some State Governments. 

Iron. Tobacco. Event of the election 329,330 

To Thomas Jefferson. Philadelphia, June 6 - 330 

Proceedings of the Convention. Names of members present. States 
which have not yet sent deputies. Proceedings thus far secret. 
Gen. Washington 330, 331 

John Adams s Defence of the American Constitutions. Appetite in 
Virginia for paper money. Patrick Henry s opinions on this and 
other subjects. Jefferson s nephews. Mazzei - 331, 332, 333 

To Thomas Jefferson. Philadelphia, July 18 - 333 

Takes notes of proceedings. Evils of paper money. Crops - 333, 334, 335 
To Col. James Madison. Philadelphia, July 28 - - 335 

Affairs in Holland. Proceedings of Congress. Ordinance for the 
Government of the Western country - - 335 



1787. Continued. 

Indian affairs. Brandt. Crops - - 336 

To James Madison, Sen. Philadelphia, Sept. 4 - 336 

Proceedings of Convention still secret - - 336 

Rumors of a spirit of insurrection in some counties of Virginia. 

Crops - 336, 337 

To Thomas Jefferson. Philadelphia, Sep. 6 - 337 

Diligence of the Convention. Probable plan of Government. Public 
land - 337, 338 

Discontents in some counties of Virginia. Wythe, &c., &c., &c. Maz- 

zei 339, 340 

To Edmund Pendleton. Philadelphia, Sept. 20 - - 340 

Sends copy of proposed Constitution for the United States. Difficul 
ties - - 340 
To James Madison, Sen. New York, Sept. 30 341 

Unanimous vote of Congress forwarding to the States the act of the 

Convention. Its reception in Philadelphia, New York, Boston, &c. 341 
To Gen. Washington. New York, Oct. 14 - - 342 

Pinckney s pamphlet, &c. Opinions concerning the Constitution. Ar 
rangements of Congress for the Western Country. J. Adams. Jef 
ferson - 342, 343 
To Thomas Jefferson. New York, Oct. 24 - - 343 

The new Constitution - - 343 

Wish of the Convention to preserve the Union of the States. No sug 
gestion made for a partition of the Empire into two or more Con 
federacies. The ground-work of the Constitution was that it should 
operate, without the intervention of the States, on the individuals 
composing the States. Great objects of the Constitution - - 344 

The Executive branch. Tenure of office. Powers - 345,346 

The Senate " the great anchor of the Government." Different propo 
sitions for its appointment and duration - - 346 

Partition of power between the General and local Governments. A 
negative on the laws of the States rejected by a bare majority. Rea 
sons for such a check. Historical examples - 346, 347, 348, 349 

A Republican form of Government, in order to effect its purposes, 
must operate within an extensive sphere - - 350 

Reasons for this opinion - 351, 352, 353 

Adjustment of different interests of different parts of the continent. 
South Carolina and Georgia. Equality in the Senate. Virginia dele 
gates to the Convention. Delegates refusing to be parties to the 
act. Gerry, Randolph, Mason - 354 

Conjectures as to the final reception of the proposed system by the 
people at large - 355 

Opinions in particular States - 355, 356 

Opinions of prominent citizens of Virginia. Danger of Indian war in 
Georgia - - - - - - - 356, 357 



1787. Continued. 

To Edmund Pendleton. New York, Oct. 28 - 358 

Test oaths. Reception of the Constitution by the Virginia Assembly 358 
The disposition of other States towards it - 359 

To Gen. Washington. New York, Nov. 18 - - 360 

Disposition in Virginia towards the Constitution ... 360 
The Federalist. Congress 360, 361 

To Gen. Washington. New York, Nov. 20 - - 361 

The Federalist. No quorum in Congress 361, 362 

To Gen. Washington. New York, Dec. 7 - - 362 

The Federalist. Prospects of the Constitution - 362 

To Thomas Jefferson. New York, Dec. 9 - - 362 

American trees, birds, &c., &c. - 363 

Prospects of the Constitution in particular States - - 363 367 

Three parties in relation to it in Virginia - 364 

Views of prominent individuals. Henry. Opinions in Virginia and 

New England classified - 365 

Virginia Assembly. Prohibitions. Revised Code. Henry. Mason. 
No quorum in Congress 366. 367 

To Gen. Washington. New York, Dec. 14 - - 367 

Papers in favor of the Federal Constitution. Virginia Assembly 367, 368 

To Gen. Washington. New York, Dec. 26 - - 368 

Expected Convention in Massachusetts. Gerry. Dana. Omission in 
Mason s published objections to the Constitution. New Jersey 
adopts the Constitution - 368 

1788. [P. 369446.] 

To Gen. Washington. New York, Jan. 14 - ... 359 

Information received, &c. Federal complexion of accounts from 

Georgia, &c. - . 359 

To Gen. Washington. New York, Jan. 20 - - 369 
Arrival of Count de Moustier. News from Europe - 369 
Opposition to the Constitution in Massachusetts. Views of the minor 
ity in Pennsylvania. Georgia. South Carolina - . 379 

To Gen. Washington. New York, Jan. 25 - - 379 

Governor Randolph s letter to the Virginia Assembly - - 370 

Information from Boston. Gerry. A Congress of seven States made 

ui> 371, 372 

To Gen. Washington. New York, Jan. 28 - - 372 

Convention in Massachusetts. Information from King. Gerry - 372 

To Gen. Washington. Feb. 1 - 373 

Information from King. Gloomy prospect in Massachusetts - - 373 

Encouraging in South Carolina - - 374 

To Gen. Washington. New York, Feb. 8 - - 374 

Prospect brightening in Massachusetts. Hancock. North and South 

Carolina. New York - 374, 375 



1788. Continued. 

To GJH Washington. New York, Feb. 11 - - 375 

Hancock s propositions to the Massachusetts Convention. S. Adams. 

Decision expected in the Virginia Convention 375, 376 

To Gen. Washington. New York, Feb. 15 - - 376 

Result of Convention at Boston. Amendments. New Hampshire - 376 
To Thomas Jefferson. New York, Feb. 19 - - 376 

States which have adopted the Federal Constitution. Votes. Views, 
&c., of the minority in Massaehusetts. Conduct of the minority in 
Connecticut and in Pennsylvania - 376. 377 

Conjectures as to the course of New Hampshire, South Carolina, Mary 
land. North Carolina, and Virginia. Henry and Mason. The As 
sembly of. Virginia. The District Court bill. British debts - 378, 379 
To Gen. Washington. New York, Feb. 20 - - 379 

A candidate for the Convention - 379 

Notice of Gen. Washington s letter to Col. Carter. French affairs - 380 
To Edmund Pendleton. New York, Feb. 21 381 

Politics of Virginia. The question of Union, the test of the proposed 
Constitution. Different objections of non-signing members, writers, 
and minorities. Objections classified - 381 

Expectations as to New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New York, and 
Charleston, S. C. Lowndes. Indications of an approaching Rev 
olution in France. The Dutch patriots - 382 
To Edmund Pendleton. New York, March 3 - 382 
Unexpected result in New Hampshire. Prospects - - 382 
To Gen. Washington. New York, March 3 - - 383 
The course of the Convention in New Hampshire. Explanation and 

prospects 383 

To Gen. Washington. Orange, April 10 - 384 

Conjectures as to the probable fate of the Constitution in the Virginia 

Convention - - 384 

Personal efforts in its favor - 38^, 385 

To Edmund Randolph. Orange, April 10 - - 385 

Amendments of Masssachusetts. Samuel Adams. Obligations, under 

the new Constitution, as to the old money - - 385 

Claim of the Indiana Company. Retrospective laws and retrospective 
construction. Religious test. Recommendatory alterations pre 
ferred to a conditional ratification or a second Convention - 386 
Henry. Mason - - 387 
To Thomas Jefferson. Orange, April 22 - 387 
Elections for the Convention. Probable dispositions of members. 
Opinions of notable individuals. Governor Randolph s temperate 
opposition. R. H. Lee, F. L. Lee, J. and M. Page - - 3S7 
Different grounds of opposition. Henry. Mason. Preliminary ques 
tion. Objections to a conditional ratification and to a new Conven 
tion. Difficulty in ascertaining the real sense of the People of Vir- 



1788. Continued. 

ginia. Geographical view. Weather, crops, &c. - 388, 389 



Examples showing defect of mere Confederacies ... 339 
Union between England and Scotland - - 389 392 

Sweden. Denmark - 391 

France. Spain. Poland - 392 

Rival communities not united by one Government. Historical ex 
amples - 392, 393 
Sparta. People. Carthage - - 394 
Rome. Power of Consuls. Tribunes - 395, 396 
Roman Empire. Modern Europe - 397, 398 
To Gen. Washington. Richmond, June 4 - - 398 
Meeting of Virginia Convention. Prospects. Randolph. Henry. Ma 
son. Kentucky - - - - - 398 
To Gen. Washington. Richmond, June 13 - - 399 
Result doubtful. British debts. Indiana claim. The Mississippi. 
Kentucky. Oswald, an anti-federal messenger. Henry. Mason. 
New York elections - - 399 
To Gen. Washington. Richmond, June 18 - - 400 
Probable smallness of majority on either side. Moderation. Henry 400 
To Col. James Madison. June 20 - - 400 
Conjectured majority of friends of the Constitution. Contest concern 
ing the Judiciary Department - 400 
To Gen. Washington. Richmond, June 23 - - 401 
Approaching close of proceedings on the Constitution. Temper of 

the opposition. Mason. Henry. A bare majority expected - 401 
To Gen. Washington. Richmond, June 25 - - - 401 

Vote on ratification. Temper of opposition, &c. - 401, 402 

To Gen. Washington. Richmond, June 27 - - 402 

Final Adjournment of Convention. Amendments. Address of minor 
ity. Henry s declaration. Probable plan of minority - - 402 
To Gen. Washington. New York, July 21 - - 403 
Movements in New York concerning the Constitution. Views as to 
putting the new Government into operation. Anti-Federal temper 
of the Executive in Maryland - 403, 404 
To Thomas Jefferson. New York, July 24 - ... 4.94 
Virginia Convention. Final question on the new Government two 
fold. Votes. Moderation and decorum of members - - 404 
British debtors. Henry and Mason. Attempt to bring the influence 
of Jefferson s name against the Constitution. Action, &c., in New 
Hampshire. South Carolina and New York. Crops 405,406 
To Col. James Madison. New York, July 27 ... 406 
Ratification, by New York, of the Federal Constitution - - 406 
To Thomas Jefferson. New York, August 10 407 



1788. Continued. 

Brissot. Remarkable form of the New York ratification of the new 
Government. Address concerning amendments. Danger from 
another Convention. Convention of North Carolina. Action in 
Congress for bringing the new Government into operation. Time 
for first meeting agreed on. Uncertainty as to place. Different 
propositions. The " Federalist." Its authors. Mazzei - 407, 408 
To Gen. Washington. New York, Aug. 15 - - 409 

Place of meeting of Congress. Different places proposed - - 409 

Pestilent tendency of a circular from the New York Convention. 

Speculations - - 410 

To Thomas Jefferson. New York, Aug. 23 - - 410 

Rejection by North Carolina of the Constitution, or annexment of con 
ditions precedent. Causes and probable effects of this step. Diffi 
culties in fixing a place for the first meeting of Congress. Western 
country. Spanish intrigues. The " Federalist " - - 411 

To Gen. Washington. New York, Aug. 24 - - 412 

New York circular. Inauspicious tendencies of the New York ratifi 
cation. Local zeal for the selection of New York city, as the place 
for the first meeting of Congress. Uncertainty of issue on this point. 
Objections to the selection of New York city 412, 413 

Views as to a final residence - 414, 415 

To Col. James Madison. New York, Sept. 6 - 415 

Exertions of Anti-Federalists for an early Convention. Encourage 
ments. Place of meeting for the new Government - - 415 
To Gen. Washington. New York, Sept. 14 - - 416 

Time and place fixed for the meeting of the new Government. Views 
as to its permanent seat. Clinton s Circular. Language of the 
Aboriginal Americans 416, 417 

To Thomas Jefferson. New York, Sept. 21 - - 417 

The Western Country. The Mississippi. Circular from New York 
Convention. Project of another General Convention. Consulta 
tions in Pennsylvania. Henry. Randolph - 417, 418 

Arrangements for bringing the new Government into action. Dispute 
concerning place of meeting. Places proposed. Chance of the Po 
tomac. Pamphlet on the Mohegan language 418, 419 

Question of " outfit" - 419,420 

To Thomas Jefferson. New York, Oct. 8 - - 420 

Rumors concerning La Fayette. Appointments of R. Morris and Mc- 
Clay to the Senate. Election laws of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and 
Connecticut. Gen. Washington will certainly be called to the Pres 
idency. Hancock and J. Adams most talked of for the Vice Presi 
dency. Jay. Knox. Reported capture of Doctor and Mm. 
Spence - 420, 421 

To Thomas Jefferson. New York. Oct. 17 - - - 421 

The " outfit." Want of quorum in Congress. Arrangements for put- 



1788. Continued. 

ting the new Constitution into action. The Presidency and Vice 
Presidency. Rutledge - 422 

Hancock and J. Adams both objectionable. S. Adams. Collective 
view of alterations proposed by State Conventions for the new Con 
stitution. Motives in Virginia - 423 

Bill of rights desirable but not important, and why. Violations of 
the bill of rights in Virginia. Where is the danger of oppression. 
In our Government, in the majority of the community. Republics 
and monarchies compared as to danger of oppression, and efficacy 
of a bill of rights 424, 425 

Use of a bill of rights in popular Governments. Limitation to the 
doctrine that there is a tendency in all Governments to an augmen 
tation of power at the expense of liberty - - 426 

Question as to absolute restrictions in a Bill of Rights, in cases which 
are doubtful, or where emergencies may overrule them. Suspen 
sion of Habeas Corpus, in the alarm of a Rebellion or insurrection. 
Standing army. Monopolies. Nuisances. Exceptions and guards. 
Proceedings in Kentucky - - 427 

To Edmund Pendleton. New York, Oct. 20 - 428 

Resolutions concerning the Mississippi. The temporary seat of the 
new Government. Impartiality in administration vital to repub 
lics. Circular from New York Convention. Evils of an early Con 
vention - - 428 

Probability of more war in Europe. France. Struggle between the 

Aristocracy and the Monarchy. Late measures of the Court tending 

to the popular side. La Fayette on the Anti-Court side - - 429 

To Gen. Washington. New York, Oct. 21 - - 429 

French affairs. La Fayette. Count Moustier and Marchioness Bre- 

han - - 429 

Johnson and Ellsworth, Senators from Connecticut. Opinions on the 
selection of New York as the temporary seat of the new Govern 
ment. Henry - - 430 

IPOTENTIARY OP FRANCE, OCT. 30, 1788 - 430 433 
Contract with R. Morris - - 430 
Supply of clothing for negroes. Products of Virginia. Trade with 

France and the Antilles, &c. - 431, 432 

Products of France and the islands. Tonnage, &c., &c. 432, 433 

To George L. Turberville. New York, Nov. 2 - 433 

Another General Convention suggested by New York - 433 

Some amendments to the Constitution ought to be made - 434 

Objections to the project of another General Convention. Importance 

of the new Constitution 434, 435 

To Gen. Washington. New York, Nov. 5 - - 436 

St. John s memorandum. Col. H. Lee s proposal. A land specula- 



1788. Continued. 
tion - - 436 

Prospects of the Constitution. Public conversation on the Vice Pres 
idency. Hancock. J. Adams. Jay. Knox - 437 
To Edmund Randolph. Philadelphia, Nov. 23 - - 438 

Vote for the Senate. Probable opposition for the other House. Em 
barrassment - - 438 

Objection to appearance of electioneering - - 439 

To Gen. Washington. Philadelphia, Dec. 2 - - 439 

Thanks for information and opinion. State of election in Massachu 
setts for the Senate. Bowdoin. Elections in New Hampshire, New 
Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania. Postponement in South Caro 
lina - 439, 440 

Reasons for a return to New York. Appearance of electioneering. 

Indisposition - - 440, 441 

To Thomas Jefferson. Philadelphia, Dec. 8 - 441 

Certainty of a peaceable commencement of the new Government in 
March next, and favorable prospects. Gen. Washington will cer 
tainly be President, and J. Adams probably Vice President. Henry. 
Anti-Federal and Federal Senators. Proportion of Anti-Federal 
members in H. of Representatives. Two questions before the pub 
lic. Amendments to the Constitution, and mode of making them - 441 

Motives of advocates of a second Convention. G. Morris s visit to 
Europe. R. Morris. Private transactions. A Candidate for H. of 
Representatives. Henry s opposition to him. Appearance of elec 
tioneering - - 442 
To Philip Mazzei. Philadelphia, Dec. 10 - - 444 

His book. Plan of a single legislature. Excess of liberty - - 444 

The new Constitution ratified by all the States except two. Appoint 
ments of Senators. Prospect as to elections for H. of Represent 
atives. Object of the Anti-Federalists 444, 445 
To Thomas Jefferson. Philadelphia, Dec. 12 - 446 

Returns from the Western Counties of Virginia. Political prospects. 
St. Trise - 446 

1789. [P. 446500.] 

To George Eve. Jan. 2 - 446 

Misrepresentations of opinions - - 447 
Amendments ought to be proposed by the first Congress. Why this 

mode is preferable to a general Convention - - 448 

To Gen. Washington. Orange, Jan. 14 - - 448 
Returns from two electoral Districts in Virginia. Gen. Stevens elected 

in one of them - - 449 
Personal contradiction of erroneous reports ... 44.9 ; 450 

To Edmund Randolph. Alexandria, March 1 - 450 
Necessity of personal appearance in the District. Discouraging an- 



1789. Continued. 

ticipations - ... 450 

To Gen. "Washington. Baltimore, March 5 - 451 

Electoral votes of Georgia. Candidates for H. of Representatives - 451 

Vote in South Carolina for President and Vice President - - 452 

To Gen. Washington. Philadelphia, March 8 - 452 

Arrival at Philadelphia, and intelligence from N. York - - 452 

Policy as to the Western Country 452, 453 

To Gen. Washington. New York, March 19 - 453 

No quorum in either House of Congress. Calculations as to strength 

of parties - - 453 

Singular manner of election in N. Jersey. French affairs - 453, 454 
To Gen. Washington. New York, March 26 - 454 

Morgan s Invitation. Spanish project. No Quorum - - 454, 455, 456 

To Thomas Jefferson. New York, March 29 - 457 

Virginia Electors for President and Vice President. Unanimous vote 
with respect to Gen. Washington. Secondary votes for J. Adams 
and G. Clinton. Election of Representatives. No quorum in Con 
gress - 457, 458 
Political complexion of the New Congress. Jefferson s wish to return 

home for the summer - - 459 

Morgan s invitation. Policy of Spain. Dispute between the two 

branches of the New York legislature - 461 

To Gen. Washington. New York. April 6 - - 461 

Arrival of R. H. Lee. A quorum formed. Election of officers of H. 
of R. - 461 

To Edmund Pendleton. New York, April 8 - 461 

Examination of ballots for President and Vice President. Unanimous 
vote for Gen. Washington as President. J. Adams elected Vice 
President. Notices to them. Officers. Rules agreed on. Federal 
ists predominate in both branches. Disability of George 3rd, and 
Regency. Discussion between the Prince of Wales and Pitt - 462 

To Edmund Randolph. New York, April 12 - 463 

New Government not yet organized in its Executive capacity. Im 
posts. Amendments to the Constitution - - 463 
Sherman s opinions. British debts. Taxes - - 464 
To Edmund Pendleton. New York, April 19 - 464 
Non-arrival of President and Vice President. Impost. Mental condi 
tion of George 3d. Contingent perplexity - 464, 465 
To Thomas Jefferson. New York, May 9 - - 465 
Books wanted, &c. Congressional Register. Its faults. Duties. Dis 
cordant views, &c. - 465, 466 
Distinction between nations in and not in Treaty. New York city 
steeped in Anglicism. Cypher. President s Speech; address of H. 
R.; reply. Titles - - 467 
To Edmund Randolph. New York, May 10 .... 457 



1789. Continued. 

Imposts. Plan of temporary collection. Unanimous opinion that Gen. 
Washington s acceptance of the Presidency was essential to ihe 
commencement of the Government. Speech and answer. Titles. 
Their friends in the Senate. R. H. Lee 468, 469 

To James Monroe. New York, May 13 - 469 

Ratio of particular duties. Excises - - 469 

To Edmund Pendleton. New York, May 17 - 470 

Bill for rating duties. Proposition as to Great Britain - 470 

To Thomas Jeiferson. New York, May 23 - - 470 

President s Speech, and answers of the two Houses. Titles. J. Adams 
and R. H. Lee. Proposed title of the President. Moustier. Mar 
chioness de Brehan. Collection bill - 470, 471 
To Thomas Jefferson. New York, May 27 - - 471 
Obstacles to Jefferson s desired visit to America. Auxiliary offices to 
the President. Knox. Jay. Livingston. Hamilton. Jefferson. 
Abolishing discriminations in favor of nations in Treaty. R. H. Lee 
on titles, discriminations, and the "Western Country. Madame Bre 
han. Moustier. Amendments. Bill of rights. Kentucky- 471,472 
Temper of Congress. Spirit of the H. of R. - 473 
To Edmund Randolph. New York, May 31 - 473 
Mrs. Randolph s health. R. H. Lee. Duties. Idea of putting G. 
Britain on the footing of a most favored nation. Difficulties from 
want of precedents, &c. Arrangement of subordinate Executive 
Departments - - 474 
Reasons for a power of removal in the President - 475 
To Thomas Jefferson. N. York, June 13 - - 475 
Introduction of constitutional amendments into H. of R. 475, 476 
To Edmund Randolph. N. Y., June 17 - 476 
Judiciary bill. Question as to power of removal in the President. 
Reasons for it. The Executive function of the Senate excep 
tional - 476, 477 
To Edmund Pendleton. New York, June 21 - 477 
Removals from office. Objections to action of the Legislature. De 
cision against it. As to possible encroachments of the respective 
branches of the Government. Amendments to the Constitution 

477, 478, 479 

To Edmund Randolph. New York, June 24 - 479 

Erroneous reports of discussions on removals from office. Leave to 
Jefferson to visit his own country. Alarming illness and convales 
cence of the President - 479 
To Thomas Jefferson. New York, June 30 - - 479 
Leave to visit America. Tardy progress of Federal business. Bill 
for regulating duties. Discrimination in favor of nations in Treaty. 
Reasons against and for it. Great Britain. Tonnage bill. Sena 
tors from Virginia. Mistake as to Grayson - 479, 480, 481, 482, 483 



1789. Continued. 

Impost. War. Foreign, and Treasury Departments. Question as to 
removals from office. Constitution silent. Four opinions advanced. 
Discussion. Decision of H. of R. Jay and Knox. Treasury De 
partment. Hamilton - 483, 484 
Senate Bill for Judiciary Department. Amendments to Constitution. 

Recent illness of the President - 485 

To Col. James Madison. New York, July 5 - 485 

Domestic. Novelty and difficulties of public business. Duties on im 
ports and tonnage. No distinction to be made between nations in 
and those not in Treaty. Commercial intercourse with Great Brit 
ain. Amendments to the Constitution 485, 486 
To Edmund Pendleton. New York, July 15 - 487 
Pendleton s remarks on the Judiciary bill. Decision of H. of R. on 
the power of removal. Why the Senate should not participate in 
it. The least responsible member of the Government. The Ju 
diciary. Duties. Collection bill. Regulations for Virginia - 487 
To Edmund Randolph. New York, July 15 - 488 
Judiciary bill. Power of removal. Opinions. Impost Act. Collec 
tion bill. Virginia - 488, 489 
To James Monroe. New York, August 9 - 489 
Proposed discrimination between Foreign nations. Gerry s motion. 

Compensation to members of Congress - 489 

Indian affairs. Militia Bills - - 490 

To Edmund Randolph. New York, August 21 - 490 

Amendments to the Constitution. Judiciary bill. Randolph s dis 
course in the Convention. Wishes him to deduce from his notes 
the argument on a condensed plan - 490, 491 

To Edmund Pendleton. New York, Sept. 14 - 491 

The Judiciary bill defective. Its offensive violations of Southern 
jurisprudence. Amendments from the Senate. Permanent seat of 
the Federal Government. Parties on the subject - 491, 492 

To Edmund Pendleton. New York, Sept. 23 - 492 

Amendments to the Judiciary bill. Bill for establishing the Susque- 
hannah as the permanent seat of Government. Views and schemes. 
French affairs - - 493 

The King. Neckar. Fayette. Committees of safety on the Ameri 
can model - 494 
To George Washington. Orange, Nov. 20 - - 494 
Spanish movements. Morris on the residence of Congress. Probable 
schemes, &c. Virginia Legislature. Henry, and the project of the 
commutable. Amendments to the Federal Constitution. Quiet of 
its opponents - 495, 496 
To George Washington. Orange, Dec. 5 - 496 
Letters of Senators of Virginia, written by R. H. Lee. Proceedings 
of the Legislature. Amendments to the Federal Constitution. Ap- 



1789. Continued. 

pointments of Joseph Jones and Spencer Roane as Judges of the 
General Court. Death of Carey, and transfer of Mercer to Court of 
Appeals 497, 498 

Letter from Senators R. H. Lee and Wm. Grayson to the Legislature of 

Virginia - 499,500 

1790. [P. 500522.1 

To George Washington. Georgetown, Jan. 4 - 500 

Amendments to the Federal Constitution lost in the Virginia Assem 
bly. Jefferson s doubts about accepting the appointment of Secre 
tary of State. His fitness for it 500, 501 

To Thomas Jefferson. New York, Jan. 24 - - 501 

Hamilton s plan of Revenue. Knox s plan of militia. Universal anx 
iety for Jefferson s acceptance of the appointment of Secretary of 
State. French politics and prices - 501, 502 

To Thomas Jefferson. New York, February 4 - 503 

Examination of Jefferson s position that one generation of men has 

no right to bind another. Objections to the doctrine 503, 504. 505, 506 
To Thomas Jefferson. New York, Feb. 14 - - 507 

Hamilton s report. Proposed reduction of the transferred principal 
of the domestic debt. An equitable rule would be to allow the 
highest market price to the purchaser, and to apply the balance to 
the original sufferer. Difficulty of the plan not insuperable. Bill 
for taking a census. Utility of a decennial repetition of it. Con- 
temp tously thrown out by the Senate - 507 

To Edmund Pendleton. New York, March 4 - 507 

Census act. Report of Secretary of Treasury. Plan for settling do 
mestic debt. Equitable view. Proposed assumption of the State 
debts. Effort to refer the assumption to the State of the debts at the 
close of the war. Unequal bearing of an assumption of the exist 
ing debts in Virginia and Massachusetts. Case of South Carolina. 
France. The Austrian Netherlands. Spain. Influence of the Amer 
ican example - 508, 509 

To Dr. Rush. New York, March 7 - - 509 

The Doctor s opinion on the proposition to divide the payment of the 
domestic debt between the original and purchasing holders of cer 
tificates. Something " radically immoral, and consequently im 
politic," in making the whole payment to the purchasers. A pam 
phlet by Dr. Rush - 510, 511 

To Thomas Jefferson. New York, March 8 - 511 

Objections to the proposed plan for assuming the State Debts - 511 

To Edmund Randolph. New York, March 14 - 511 

A decision by a large majority not coinciding with the supposed pre 
vailing sense of the People. [Qu.?] Assumption of State debts. 
Course of the Virginia delegation. Bland. Debts of the Union. 



1790. Continued. 

Proposed National Debt 511,512 

To Edmund Randolph. New York, March 21 512 

Domestic. Language of Richmond as to the proposed discrimination. 
Personal animosity. Debates occasioned by the Quakers. State 
debts. Paper money in Georgia, the Carolinas, &c., to Rhode Island. 
French affairs - 512, 513 

To Edmund Randolph. New York, March 30 - 513 

Disappointment in seeing the President. Resolutions on the Treasury 

report. Assumption of State Debts. Prospects - 513, 514 

To Edmund Pendleton. New York, April 4 - 514 

Assumption of State debts. Bland. Historical magnitude of the 
American Revolution. Importance of the proceedings in Virginia 
during the crisis of the Stamp Act. Application to Randolph for 
brief notes of them - 514,515 

To Gen. Henry Lee. New York, April 13 - - 515 

Public prospects. Seat of Government. Reception in Virginia of the 
plan of discrimination. The rural districts there not in unison with 
the cities - - - 515 

Faults, and the apology for them, of the Report of the Secretary of 
the Treasury. Proposed assumption of State debts. Contradictory 
decision. Last vote. Zeal and perseverance of the minority. Lee s 
reflections on a public debt. A public debt a public curse, especially 
in a republic - - . 516 

To Edmund Pendleton. New York, April 13 - 517 

Negative of the proposed assumption of State debts. The project not 

abandoned - - 517 

To James Monroe. New York, April 17 - 517 

Same subject. Prophetic menaces of the Eastern members - - 517 

To Edmund Pendleton. New York, May 2 - - 518 

Pendleton s notes, &c., on the subject of the Stamp Act. New experi 
ments of the advocates of assumption - 518 
To Edmund Pendleton. New York, May 19 - 518 
Recent critical illness of the President. Commercial relation to Great 
Britain. Funding of the public debt. Assumption of State debts. 
Motives of its advocates 518, 519 
To James Monroe. New York, June 1 - 519 
Assumption revived. Funding bill. Experiment for navigation and 
commercial purposes. Opinions, projects, &c., as to temporary and 
permanent seat of Government. Death of Bland. President s re 
covery. Jefferson - 519, 520 
To James Monroe. New York, June 17 - - 520 
Question concerning the seat of Government, temporary and perma 
nent. Baltimore. Assumption. Funding bill - - 520 
To Edmund Pendleton. New York. June 22 - 620 
Pressure of business. Funding and revenue systems. Assumption of 



1790. Continued. 

State debts. Seat of Government. Great Britain itching for 
wur - - 520,521 

To James Monroe. New York, July 4 - 521 

Senate bill fixing the temporary and the permanent seat of Govern 
ment. Public debt. Assumption - - 621, 522 
To James Monroe. New York, July 24 - - 522 
Prospects of the Assumption. Spirit of accommodation necessary - 522 

1791. [P. 523545.] 

To Edmund Pendleton. New York, January 2 523 

Legal character of the stipulation in the Treaty concerning the recov 
ery of debts. Construction of the Legislation on the Treaty. Bear 
ing of the Treaty on acts of limitation. Rule of interpretation should 
be liberal 523, 524 

Meaning of the phrase " Supreme Law," as applied to Treaties. Au 
thority to annul the Treaty. A breach on one side discharges the 
other, if that other sees fit to take advantage of the breach. Prac 
tical inference as to the treaty with G. Britain. Hamilton s plan 
of a- Bank. Randolph s report on the Judiciary. Report concern 
ing the assumed debt. Objections and difficulties. Militia bill. 
Public Lands. Weights and measures. Case of Kentucky. Ver 
mont - 524, 525 
Letter from Lord Mayor of London to Duke of Leeds. Supposed peace 

between G. Britain and Spain - 526 

To James Madison. Phila., Jan. 23 - - 527 

Peace between G. Britain and Spain. Excise bill. Kentucky bill. 
Bills concerning a Bank, the militia, Western lands, &c. Webb s 
petition. Statistical inquiries - 527 

To Edmund Pendleton. Phila., Feb. 13 - - 528 

Unconstitutionality of Bank bill. Excise. A direct tax offensive in 
and out of Congress. Kentucky bill. Vermont. Public lands, mili 
tia, and other bills - 528 
To Edmund Pendleton. February 13 529 
Price of wheat. Certificates. Webb s petition. Excise and Bank 
bills. Kentucky admitted. Bill for selling the Western lands. An 
earthquake. Weather 529, 530 

To Thomas Jefferson. New York, May 1 - - 534 

Priestley s answer to Burke. Jefferson s idea of limiting the right to 
bind posterity, germinating under Burke s extravagance. Rumor 
of the suppression in England of Paine s answer to Burke. Fraudu 
lent practice of taking out administration on the effects of deceased 
soldiers. Great amount of unclaimed dues to the U. S. Temptation 
to the collusion of clerks, &c. Indecent conduct of partisans of the 



1791. Continued* 

Bank bilU King s opinions on British relations to U. S. Smith s 
suggestion on information, &c., &c. - - 534, 535 

To Thomas Jefferson. New York, May 12 - - 535 

Jefferson brought into the frontispiece of Paine s pamphlet. J. 
Adams s Defence, &c. His anti-republican discourses since he has 
been Vice President. Ridiculous sensibility of Hammond and 
Bond. Possible trip to Boston. Political prospects in Virginia 535, 536 
To Thomas Jefferson. New York, June 23 - - 537 

French regulations concerning tobacco. Publicola. Pamphlet on the 

Bank - ... 537 

To Thomas Jefferson. New York, June 27 - - 537 

Col. Smith s conversations with the British ministry - - 537 

J. Adams s difficulties. Attack on Paine, and obnoxious principles. 

His letter to Wythe in 1776 - - 538 

To Thomas Jefferson, New York, July 10 - - 533 

Rise of Bank shares. Admission and inference. Bank jobbers. Polit 
ical gambling - - 538 
To Thomas Jefferson. New York, July 13 - - 539 
Beckley s report of J. Adams s unpopularity. Publicola. J. Q. 

Adams. J. Adams s method and style - 539 

Bank shares. Alleged manoeuvres of Philadelphia to the prejudice of 
New York, Boston, and Baltimore. Remark attributed to Pitt. G. 
Morris. Luzerne. Beckwith. Paine 539, 540 

To Thomas Jefferson. New York, August 4 - 540 

Speculations in stock, &c., carried on with money borrowed at heavy 

usury - - 540 

To Thomas Jefferson. New York, August 8 - 541 

Surmise as to the deferred debt. Difference between old paper under 
a bad Government, and new paper under a good one. Moral and 
political dangers from the Bank. The stock jobbers - 541 

To Robert Pleasants. Phila., October 30 - - 542 

Petition concerning the Militia bill. Personal objection to presenting 
the petition concerning slavery. Probable effect of such an appli 
cation to the Legislature of Virginia, on the existing privilege of 
manumission - - 542, 543 

To Gen. Henry Lee. Phila., Dec. 18 - 543 

Freneau. The Western disaster - 543 

To Edmund Pendleton. Phila., Dec. 18 - - 543 

Discussion before the Federal Court at Richmond. Proceedings of 
Congress. Disagreement of the two Houses on the Representation 
bill. Fractions. Prospects as to the result - - 544 

Hammond s reported disavowal of encouragement by the Government 
of Canada to Indian hostilities, T. Pinckney to be Minister to Lon 
don. French affairs. The King s acceptance of the Constitution. 
Election of the Legislative Assembly - - - - 545 



1792. [P. 545574.] 

To Edmund Pendleton. Phila., Jan. 21 - 545 

The Representation bill. Proposed compensation for present inequality 

of fractions. How relished - - 546 

H. of Reps, occupied with shut doors on the subject of the Western 
frontiers. Hamilton s report on manufactures. Its Constitutional 
doctrine. Subversion of the fundamental and characteristic princi 
ple of the Govt. The phrase, " General Welfare," copied from the 
Articles of Confederation; and always understood as nothing more 
than a general caption to the specified powers, and therefore pre 
ferred in the Constitution as less liable to misconstruction - 546, 547 
To Gen. Henry Lee. Jan. 29 - 547 

Western defence. Justifying memorial of the Executive - - 547 

To Gen. Henry Lee. February 12 - - 547 

Military bill in the Senate. Suggested exchange of stations. Corn- 

wallis and Tippoo 547, 548 

To Edmund Pendleton. Phila., Feb. 21 - - 548 

Report on manufactures. Bill concerning election of President and 
Vice President. Question as to number of electors. Provision for 
case of a double vacancy, certainly erroneous. Various objections 
to it. Proposition in H. of R. to substitute the Secretary of State. 
Another Representation bill - 548, 549 

To Edmund Pendleton. Phila., March 25 - - 549 

Perseverance and victory of the Northern members on the Represen 
tation bill. Result unconstitutional. Treasury reports. Militia bill. 
Mint. St. Domingo. Failure of a New York speculator. Extensive 
ruin caused by it 549, 550 

To Gen. Henry Lee. Phila., March 28 - - 551 

Gen. St. Clair. Proposed inquiry into the cause of Western calamities. 
Mint bill. Proposition of the Senate to stamp the head of the Pres 
ident, for the time being, on one side of the coin - 551, 552 
To Edmund Pendleton. Phila., April 9 - - 552 
President negatives the Representation bill. Assumption of the re 
mainder of the State debts. Western defence. Bankruptcies in 
New York - - 552 
To Gen. Henry Lee. Phila., April 15 - 553 
Nominations for General officers. Wilkinson. Commander-in-Chief. 

Anticipations, &c., as to a military appointment. Gen. 

Lee s present station as Governor of Virginia. Augmented duties. 
Speculating and Banking in New York. President s negative on 
the Representation bill. The law providing for invalid pensioners 
pronounced by the Judges to be unconstitutional. The power 553, 554 

The subject of, the mode, and time for making known, the President s 
intention of retiring from public life, on the expiration of his four 
years - - 554559 



1792. Continued. 

May 9, 25. Farther conversation, &c., on the subject 559, 5GC 

To Mr. Jefferson. Orange, June 12 - - 560 

Answer to Hammond. Criticisms in the cabinet. Kentucky. Brown. 
Campbell. Muter. Brackenridge. Greenup. The Excise. Effect 
of Sidney, a writer in the Gazette. Tax on newspapers. Freneau 561 
Drought. Crops. Meeting with the President on the road. Problem 
as to his declining a re-election. Monroe. Mease s oration on Hy 
drophobia. Tableau of national debts and polls - 562,563 
To President Washington. Orange, June 21 - - - 563 
Questions as to a notification of Washington s purpose to retire. Time, 
mode, valedictory address; whether notification and address should 
be separate acts, or blended together. Requests reconsideration of 
the purpose to retire. Encloses draught of an address, following 
the prescribed outline - 563, 564, 565 
THE DRAUGHT above referred to - - 565 568 
To Edmund Randolph. Orange, Sept. 13 - - 569 
A publication in Fenno s paper. Jefferson. Freneau s talents, mer 
its, and sufferings in the Revolution. The application for his ap 
pointment to his present Clerkship suggested by Gen. H. Lee. Ad 
vice to establish a press in Phila. Motives. Calumnious charges. 
Why they have not been publicly answered - 569. 570 
To Edmund Pendleton. Phila., Nov. 16 - - 571 
President s speech, and answers of the two Houses. Answer of H. 
of R. as to the Excise. Criticisms. Anonymous pamphlet reflect 
ing on Madison and other of Pendleton s friends - 571 
To Edmund Pendleton. Phila., Dec. 6 - - 572 
French affairs. Formidable combination against the Revolution, &c. 
Disposition of the nation. Newspaper tax. Election of Vice Pres 
ident. J. Adams and Gov. Clinton. Political principles of Adams. 
Harvest in Europe. Prices. Col. Taylor. Jefferson s probable re 
tirement - 572, 573 
To Edmund Pendleton. Phila., Dec. 10 - - 573 
New Treasury Report. Query as to a tax on horses. Operation of it 
in different places. Queries - - 573, 574 

1Y93. [P. 574654.] 

To Edmund Pendleton. Phila.. Feb. 23 - 57* 

Talents, &c., of [John Taylor] successor to R. H. Lee. Approaching 
election in Virginia for H. of R. Mr. C. Scrutiny into administra 
tion of Treasury Dept. Giles s resolutions. British Ministry. Paine. 
French affairs. Spain 574, 575 

To Thomas Jefferson. Orange, April 12 - 57t> 

Dunlap. Evil of premature denunciations. Public sentiment in Vir 
ginia. Election for H. of R. The only discontinued representa 
tive from Virginia in the last Congress. Member for the Alexan- 



1793. Continued. 

dria district. G. s vote on the resolutions of censure. J. Cole, 
Hancock, Preston, Brackenridge, Greenup. Sympathy with fate of 
Louis XVI. The man and the monarch. Prospect as to crops. 
Weather. Ploughs - 576, 577 

To Thomas Jefferson. Orange, May 8 - 578 

Wish that Genet may be properly received. Impression as to effect 
of the Treaty. The Proclamation. Quibbling on Vattel. Effect of 
a change of Government on public engagements. Weather. Vege 
tation. Pamphlet on the proceedings in the case of the Secretary 
of the Treasury 578, 579 

To Thomas Jefferson. May 27 - 579 

Jefferson s longings for private life. Objections to their gratification. 
Genet. Fiscal party in Alexandria. Georgetown. Fredericksburg. 
The executive. Secret Anglomany - 579, 580 

To Thomas Jefferson. Orange, June 13 - - 580 

Letter to a French minister. Apostasy of Dumouriez - 580 

Criticisms on the President s proclamation. Authority to declare the 
disposition of the U. S. on a question of war or peace. Snares for 
the President - 581, 582 

Sentiment of Virginia concerning liberty and France. Heretical tone 

of the towns. Weather. Crops. Kentucky coffee trees - 582, 583 
To Thomas Jefferson. Orange, June 17 - - 583 

French affairs. W. C. Nicholas. Sympathy of the People of Virginia 
with the French Revolution. Jay s judicial opinion on a question 
concerning British debts. Reflections 583, 584 

To Thomas Jefferson. Orange. June 19 - 584 

Anglified complexion charged on the Executive politics. The Proc 
lamation an unfortunate error. Reflections - 584 
To Thomas Jefferson. June 29 .... 585 
The Proclamation. Seizure and search of American vessels for French 

goods - - - 585 

To Thomas Jefferson. July 18 ... 585 

A subject recommended to the writer s attention. [Qu.: Pacificus?] 
Pamphlet and ploughs. Genet s folly. De la Forest. Harvest 

585, 586 

To Thomas Jefferson. July 22 - 586 

W. C. Nicholas. E. Randolph. Their sentiments on the French Rev 
olution. Allowance to be made in conversations, &c. Suspicions 
of Nicholas imputing to Hamilton a secret design against the Pres 
ident. Printed papers. [Qu.: Pacificus?] Difficulties in the way of 
discussing the subject. Controversial precautions - - 586, 587, 588 

To Thomas Jefferson. July 30 - 588 

Acknowledgment of papers, &c., received. Has forced himself into 
the task of a reply [to Pacificus.] Vexations. "Prolixity and per 
tinacity " of the antagonist. Question as to ideas of France and of 



1793. Continued. 

the President on certain points ... 588, 589 

The President s journey to Virginia. Errors as to public sentiment. 

Ploughs. Dr. Logan. Crops. Weather - 589, 590 

To Thomas Jefferson. August 5 - 590 

Jefferson s distressing account of Genet s proceedings. His folly. Sus 
picions. Last topic of Pacificus. His feeble defence of an import 
ant point - - - - - - 590 

To Thomas Jefferson. August 11 - - 591 

Key to the cypher left wanting. Necessity of abridging the answer 
to Pacificus. Particular delicacy of one topic. Pamphlet against 
the fiscal system, by the reputed author of Franklin. Communica 
tion to F., &c. - - 591 
Paper for J. F. Requests critical examination, &c., &c., and erasure 
of quotation from the Federalist, if deemed objectionable on the 
ground of delicacy. Drought - - 592 
To Thomas Jefferson. August 20 - - 593 
Proposed visit to Monroe. Requests aid concerning the publication 
of Helvidius. The last No. required particular care, but necessarily 
hurried. More quotations from the Federalist, to be omitted if, 
&c., &c. Paragraph concerning Spain. President s answers to ad 
dresses. Drought - 593, 594 
To Thomas Jefferson. At Col. Monroe s, Aug. 22 - - 594 
Helvidius. Apology for an error of fact - 594 
To Thomas Jefferson. August 27 - - 595 
Certificate of Jay and King. Wythe at the head of certain proceed 
ings at Richmond. His disgusts from the State legislature. Plan 
for making political use of Genet s indiscretions. Counteraction. 
Wish for Pendleton s support 595, 596 
To Thomas Jefferson. September 2 - 596 
Genet s unaccountable and distressing conduct. Use made of it. An 
tidote to the poison. Encloses sketch of ideas for use at county 
meetings. Conversation between the President and Jefferson. Anx 
iety to retain J. in office. Reasons for his remaining. His contin 
gent successor would probably be King or E. Rutledge. Monroe s 
perplexity about Genet. Suggestion. Palliatives of Genet s con 
duct in certain errors of our own Government 597, 598 
W. C. Nicholas. E. Randolph drew the proclamation, and reprobates 
the comment of Pacificus. Hamilton. The task to be resumed. Its 
awkwardness. Visitors ... . 599 

To James Monroe. September 15 - - 601 

Mad conduct of Genet. Its effect on his own votaries in Philadel 
phia; on Anglicans and Monocrats. War of G. Britain on Ameri 
can commerce. Malignant fever in Philadelphia. Jefferson, and 
a composition of John Taylor - - 601, 602 



1793. Continued. 

To George Washington. Orange, Oct. 24 - - 602 

Questions as to the meeting of Congress, arising from the existence of 
malignant fever at Philadelphia. Duty and constitutional power 
of the Executive. Conclusion. Draught of notification - 602, 603. 604 
To James Monroe. October 29 - 605 

Resolutions proposed at Fredericksburg. Letter from Bordeaux. 
Culpeper meeting. Fauquier resolutions. Davis s papers. Forward 
corn, &c. 605. 606 


Answer to the argument that the powers of declaring war and treaties 

are, in their nature, Executive powers 612 619, 621 

In G. B. they are royal prerogatives - - 619 

The Federalist, No. 75 - 620 

Argument from the admissions that the right to declare war is vested 
in the Legislature, and that it includes the right to judge whether 
the U. S. be obliged to declare war or not - 622 62G 

Neutrality defined - 627 

Answer to the argument founded on the clause of the Constitution de 
claring that the President " shall take care that the laws be faith 
fully executed " 626630 
Asserted right and duty of the Executive to interpret certain treaty 

stipulations - - 630 

Inferences from the right of the Executive to receive public ministers 

631, 632 

Federalist, No. 69. The authority of the Executive does not extend to 
a question whether an existing Government ought to be recognised 
or not - - - 633 

Right of every nation to abolish an old Government and establish a 

new one - 633 

Treaties formed by the Government are treaties of the Nation, unless 

otherwise expressed in the treaties - - 634 

Treaties not affected by a change of Government - - 634 

No more right in the Executive to suspend. &c., a treaty on account 

of a change of Government, than to suspend any other law - 634 

Draught of a supposed Proclamation founded on the prerogative and 

policy of suspending the Treaty with France 634, 635 

Qualification of the suspending power. Answer 635 638 

Public rights of two sorts. Supposed cases - 636, 637 

Towering prerogative claimed for the Executive - - 639 

Position of the Legislature 639, 640 

Summary of the view taken in the preceding Nos. - 640 

Tendency and consequence of the new doctrine 640 643 

Axiom, that the Executive is the department of power most distin 
guished by its propensity to war. Practice of free States to disarm 



1793. Continued. 
this propensity of its influence ... 643 

Refusal of the Constitution to vest in the Executive the sole power of 
making peace - - 644 

Federalist, No. 75. Reflections- 644.64.) 

Assumption that the Proclamation has undertaken to decide the ques 
tion, whether there be a cause of war, or not, in the article of guar 
anty between U. S. and France, and in so doing has exercised the 
right claimed for the Executive Department. Application of the 
term " Government" to the Executive authority alone - G46, 647 

Nature of a Proclamation in its ordinary use - 647 

Unusual and unimplied meaning ascribed to President Washington s 
Proclamation. Term " neutrality " not in it. Legal and rational 
grounds for it - - 648 

Part of it declaring the disposition, &c., of U. S. in relation to the 
war in Europe - 648, 649 

It does not require the construction put on it by Pacificus - - 649 

Reasons why the President cannot be supposed to have intended to 
embrace and prejudge the legislative question, whether there was 
or was not, under the circumstances of the case, a cause of war in 
the article of guaranty - - 649 

No call from either of the parties at war wit h France, for an expla 
nation of the light in which the guaranty was viewed 649, 650 

An inadmissible presumption - - 650 

Farther reasons against supposing that a precipitate and ex parte de 
cision of the guaranty question could have been intended by the 
Proclamation - 651653 

Silence of the Executive since the accession of Spain and Portugal to 

the war against France ... 653, 654 

Proper sense of the Proclamation ..... 654 





1751. March 16, N. S. [1750, March 5, 0. S.] Born in King George 

county, Virginia. 
. His early education, at the school of Donald Robertson, in King 

and Queen county; and afterward at home, under the private 

tuition of the Rev. Thomas Martin. 

1769. Becomes a student of the College of New Jersey, at Princeton. 
1771. Takes the degree of Bachelor of Arts. 

1775. Chairman of the Committee of Public Safety for the county of 


1776. April. Chosen a member of the new Virginia Convention at 


1777. November. Elected by the Legislature, a member of the Coun 

cil of State. 

1780. March 4, to the first Monday in November 1783, a delegate 
from Virginia to the Congress of the Confederation. 

1780. October 17. His report from a Committee, consisting of him 
self, Mr. Sullivan, and Mr. Duane, to prepare instructions to 
Dr. Franklin and Mr. Jay in support of the claims of the 
United States to Western territory, and the free navigation of 
Mississippi River. 

1783. April 26. From a Committee, consisting of himself, Mr. Ells 
worth, and Mr. Hamilton, he prepares an Address to the 
States, urging the grant of power to Congress to lay certain 
duties for the payment of the public debt; the levying by the 
States of a revenue for paying the interest of the debt; and 
that the States should make liberal cessions to the Union, of 

their territorial claims. 



1784. Elected a member of the Legislature of Virginia. Prepares 

Remonstrance and Memorial in favor of Religious Liberty. 

1785. As Chairman of the Committee of Courts of Justice, reports a 

plan for establishing Courts of Assize. His labors in the gen 
eral revisal of the Statute laws. Advocates successfully the 
enactment of a law by Virginia, to repress and punish enter 
prises by her citizens against nations with which the United 
States are at peace. [Filibustering.] 

His proposition for the execution of the Treaty of peace con 
cerning British debts. 

Suggests a proposition for the appointment of Commissioners to 
consider of the state of trade in the Confederacy. 

1786. Appointed, with six others, as Commissioners from Virginia to a 

Convention at Annapolis. 

Drafts the report of the Commissioners to the Legislatures by 
which they had been appointed, recommending a second Con 
vention of delegates to a Convention to be held at Philadel 
phia on the second Monday of May, 1787, for a general revi 
sal of the Constitution of the Federal Government. 

His effort for the disposal of the Public Lands, leading to a 
modification of the terms of cession, and to the ordinance for 
the Government of the North Western territory, which was 
afterward [13th of July, 1787] adopted by Congress. 

1787. One of a Committee of five members for revising the style and 

arranging the articles of the Constitution which had been 
agreed to by the Convention at Philadelphia, and for prepar 
ing an address to the People of the United States. 

The leading advocate of the new Constitution. 

In conjunction with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, writes 
"The Federalist."* 

* Of the eighty-five Numbers of the "Federalist," Nos. 1, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 
15, 16, 17, 21 to 36, 59, 60, 61, 65 to 85, were written by Hamilton; Nos. 10, 14, 
37 to 58, by Madison; Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5, 64, by Jay; and Nos. 18, 19, 20, by Ham 
ilton and Madison, jointly. In a copy* of the Federalist lent by Mr. Madison to 
Mr. Jacob Gideon, of Washington city, the publisher of the edition of 1818. is 
the following MS. note, written by Mr. Madison, on the leaf commencing with 
No. 18 : 

" The subject of this and the two following numbers happened to be taken up 
" by both Mr. H. and Mr. M. What had been prepared by Mr. H., who had en- 
* Now in the Washington Library. 


1789 1797. A member of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Congresses 

under the new Constitution. 

1793. Writes "Helvidius," in answer to "Pacificus," (Alexander 

Hamilton,) on President Washington s Proclamation of Neu 
trality, April 22, 1793. 

1794. September 15. Marries Mrs. Dolly P. Todd. 

1798. December 21. Prepares Resolutions of the Legislature of Vir 

ginia against the Alien and Sedition Laws. 

1799. Elected to the House of Delegates of Virginia from Orange County. 
1799 1800. Prepares other Resolutions on the same subject, and a 

report in reply to answers received from other States. 
1801 1809. Secretary of State during President Jefferson s Adminis 

His Reports, diplomatic letters, &c., &c. 
1806. His Examination of the British doctrine relating to Neutral 

1809 1817. President of the United States. 

His messages, annual and special, &c., &c. 
1826. Rector of the University of Virginia. 

1829. A delegate from the district of Spottsylvania, Louisa, Orange, 
and Madison, to the Convention of Virginia for revising the 
Constitution of the Commonwealth. 
1833. President of the American Colonization Society. 

1835. President of the Washington National Monument Society. 

1836. June 28. Dies at his residence, Montpellier, Orange county, 


" tered more briefly into the subject, was left with Mr. M., on its appearing that 
" the latter was engaged in it, with larger materials, and with a view to a more 
" precise delineation ; and from the pen of the latter, the several papers went to 
* ,bo Praas." 




NASSAU HALL, August 16, 1769. 

REV. SIR, I am not a little affected at hearing of your mis 
fortune, but cannot but hope the cure may be so far accom 
plished as to render your journey not inconvenient. Your kind 
advice and friendly cautions are a favor that shall be always 
gratefully remembered; and I must beg leave to assure you that 
my happiness, which you and your brother so ardently wish for, 
will be greatly augmented by both your enjoyments of the like 

I have been as particular to my father as I thought necessary 
for this time, as I send him an account of the institution, &c., 
&c., and of the college, wrote by Mr. Blair, the gentleman for 
merly elected President of this place. You will likewise find 
two pamphlets entitled " Britannia s Intercession for John 
Wilkes," &c., which, if you have not seen it, perhaps may divert 

I am perfectly pleased with my present situation; and the 
prospect before me of three years confinement, however terrible 
it may sound, has nothing in it, but what will be greatly allevi 
ated by the advantages I hope to derive from it. 

The near approach of examination occasions a surprising ap 
plication to study on all sides, and I think it very fortunate 

VOL. I. 1 


that I entered college immediately after my arrival. Though 
I believe there will not be the least danger of my getting an 
Irish hint, as they call it, yet it will make my studies somewhat 
easier. I have by that means read over more than half Horace 
and made myself pretty well acquainted with prosody, botli 
which will be almost neglected the two succeeding years. 

The very large packet of letters for Carolina I am afraid will 
be incommodious to your brother on so long a journey, to whom 
I desire my compliments may be presented; and conclude with 
my earnest request for a continuance of both your friendships, 
and sincere wishes for your recovery, and an agreeable journey 
to your whole company. 

I am, sir, your obliged friend and obedient servant. 


NASSAU HALL, September 30. 17(i9. 

HONORED SIR, I received your letter by Mr. Rossekrans, 
and wrote an answer; but as it is probable this will arrive 
sooner which I now write by Dr. Witherspoon, I shall repeat 
some circumstances to avoid obscurity. 

On Wednesday last we had the usual commencement. Eigh 
teen young gentlemen took their Bachelor s degrees, and a con 
siderable number their Master s degrees. The degree of Doctor 
of Laws was bestowed on Mr. Dickinson the Farmer, and Mr. 
Galloway the Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly, a distin 
guishing mark of honor, as there never was any of that kind 
done before in America. The commencement began at ten 
o clock, when the President walked first into the church, a 
board of trustees following, and behind them those that were to 
take their first degrees. After a short prayer by the President, 
the head oration, which is always given to the greatest scholar 
by the President and Tutors, was pronounced in Latin by Mr. 
Samuel Smith, son of a Presbyterian minister in Pennsylvania. 
Then followed the other orations, disputes, and dialogues, dis- 

17C9. LETTERS. 3 

tributed to each according to his merit, and last of all was pro 
nounced the valedictory oration by Mr. John Henry, son of a 
gentleman in Maryland. This is given to the greatest orator. 
We had a very great assembly of people, a considerable number 
of whom came from New York; those at Philadelphia were 
most of them detained by Races which were to follow on the 
next day. 

Since commencement, the trustees have been sitting about 
business relative to the college, and have chosen for tutors for 
the ensuing year, for the junior class, Mr. Houston from North 
Carolina, in the room of Mr. Peream; for the freshman class, 
Mr. Reeve, (a gentleman who has for several years past kept a 
school at Elizabethtown,) in the room of Mr. Pemberton. The 
sophomore tutor, Mr. Thomson, still retains his place, remark 
able for his skill in the sophomore studies, having taken care 
of that class for several years past. Mr. Halsey was chosen 
junior tutor, but refused. The trustees have likewise appointed 
Mr. Caldwell, a minister at Elizabethtown, to take a journey 
through the Southern Provinces as far as Georgia, to make col 
lections by which the college fund may be enabled to increase 
the- library, provide an apparatus of mathematical and philo 
sophical instruments, and likewise to support professors, which 
would be a great addition to the advantages of this college. 
Dr. Witherspoon s business to Virginia is nearly the same, as I 
conjecture, and perhaps to form some acquaintance to induce 
gentlemen to send their sons to this college. 

I feel great satisfaction from the assistance my uncle has re 
ceived from the springs, and I flatter myself from the continu 
ance of my mother s health that Dr. Shore s skill will effectually 
banish the cause of her late indisposition. 

I recollect nothing more at present worth relating, but as 
often as opportunity and anything worthy your attention shall 
occur, be assured you shall hear from 

Your affectionate son. 



NASSAU HALL, July 23, 1770. 


We have no public news but the base conduct of the mer 
chants in New York in breaking through their spirited resolu 
tions not to import; a distinct account of which I suppose will 
be in the Virginia Gazette before this arrives. Their letter to 
the merchants in Philadelphia requesting their concurrence, was 
lately burnt by the students of this place in the college yard, all 
of them appearing in their black gowns, and the bell tolling. 

The number of students has increased very much of late; 
there are about an hundred and fifteen in college, and in the 
grammar school twenty-two commence this fall, all of them in 
American cloth. 

With my love to all the family, I am, honored sir, your 
affectionate son. 


PRINCETON, October 9, 1771. 

HONORED SIR, In obedience to your requests I hereby send 
you an answer to yours of the 25th of September, which I 
received this morning. My letter by Dr. Witherspoon, who 
left this place yesterday week, contains most of what you desire 
to be informed of. I should be glad if your health and other 
circumstances should enable you to visit him during his stay in 
Virginia. I am persuaded you would be much pleased with 
him, and that he would be very glad to see you. 

I was so particular in my last with regard to my determina 
tion about staying in Princeton this winter coming, that I need 
say nothing more in this place, my sentiments being still the 

I am sorry Mr. Chew s mode of conveyance will not answer 
in Virginia. I expect to hear from him in a few days, by return 

!772. LETTERS. 5 

of a man belonging to this Town from New London, and shall 
then acquaint him with it and get it remedied by the methods 
you propose. 

Mr. James Martin was here at commencement, and had an 
opportunity of hearing from his brothers and friends in Caro 
lina by a young man lately come from thence to this college; 
however, I shall follow your directions in writing to him imme 
diately, and visiting him as soon as I find it convenient. 

I am, Dr sir, your affectionate son. 


(At the Coffee-Rouse, Philadelphia, By the post.) 

ORANGE, VIRGINIA, November 9, 1772. 

MY DEAR B., You moralize so prettily, that if I were to 
judge from some parts of your letter of October 13, I should 
take you for an old philosopher that had experienced the emp 
tiness of earthly happiness; and I am very glad that you have 
so .early seen through the romantic paintings with which the 
world is sometimes set off by the sprightly imaginations of the 
ingenious. You have happily supplied, by reading and obser 
vation, the want of experiment; and therefore I hope you are 
sufficiently guarded against the allurements and vanities that 
beset us on our first entrance on the theatre of life. Yet, how 
ever nice and cautious we may be in detecting the follies of 
mankind, and framing our economy according to the precepts 
of Wisdom and Religion, I fancy there will commonly remain 
with us some latent expectation of obtaining more than ordi 
nary happiness and prosperity till we feel the convincing argu 
ment of actual disappointment. Though I will not determine 
whether we shall be much the worse for it if we do not allow it 
to intercept our views towards a future state, because strong- 
desires and great hopes instigate us to arduous enterprizes, 
fortitude, and perseverance. Nevertheless, a watchful eye must 
be kept on ourselves, lest while we are building ideal rnonu- 


menta of renown and bliss here, we neglect to have our names 
enrolled in the annals of Heaven. These thoughts come into 
my mind because I am writing to you, and thinking of you. 
As to myself, I am too dull and infirm now to look out for any 
extraordinary things in this world, for I think my sensations 
for many months past have intimated to me not to expect a 
long or healthy life; though it may be better with me after 
some time, [but] I hardly dare expect it, and therefore have 
little spirit and alacrity to set about anything that is difficult 
in acquiring and useless in possessing after one has exchanged 
time for eternity. But you have health, youth, fire, and genius, 
to bear you along through the high track of public life, and so 
may be more interested and delighted in improving on hints 
that respect the temporal though momentous concerns of man. 

I think you made a judicious choice of History and the science 
of morals for your winter s study. They seem to be of the 
most universal benefit to men of sense and taste in every post, 
and must certainly be of great use to youth in settling the 
principles and refining the judgment, as well as in enlarging 
knowledge and correcting the imagination. I doubt not but 
you design to season them with a little divinity now and then, 
which, like the philosopher s stone, in the hands of a good man, 
will turn them and every lawful acquirement into the nature of 
itself, and make them more precious than fine gold. 

As you seem to require that I should be open and unreserved, 
(which is indeed the only proof of true friendship.) I will 
venture to give you a word of advice, though it be more to 
convince you of my affection for you than from any apprehen 
sion of your needing it. Pray do not suffer those impertinent 
fops that abound in every city to divert you from your business 
and philosophical amusements. You may please them more by 
admitting them to the enjoyment of your company, but you 
will make them respect and admire you more by showing your 
indignation at their follies, and by keeping them at a becoming 
distance. I am luckily out of the way of such troubles, but I 
know you are surrounded with them; for they breed in towns 
and populous places as naturally as flies do in the shambles, 

1773. LETTERS. 7 

because there they get food enough for their vanity and imper 

I have undertaken to instruct my brothers and sisters ip- 
some of the first rudiments of literature; but it does not take 
up so much of my time but I shall always have leisure to 
receive and answer your letters, which are very grateful to me, 
I assure you: and for reading any performances you may be 
kind enough to send me, whether of Mr. Freneau or anybody 
else. I think myself happy in your correspondence, and desire 
you will continue to write as often as you can, as you see I 
intend to do by the early and long answer I send you. You 
are the only valuable friend I have settled in so public a place, 
and I must rely on you for an account of all literary transac 
tions in your part of the world. 

I am not sorry to hear of Livingston s getting a degree. I 
heartily wish him well, though many would think I had but 
little reason to do so; and ?f he would be sensible of his oppor 
tunities and encouragements, I think he might still recover. 
Lucky (?) and his company, after their feeble yet wicked assault 
upon Mr. Erwin, in my opinion, will disgrace the catalogue of 
names ; but they are below contempt, and I spend no more 
words about them. 

And now, my friend, I must take my leave of you, but with 
such hopes that it will not be long before I receive another 
epistle from you, as make me more cheerfully conclude and 
subscribe myself 

Your sincere and affectionate friend. 

Your direction was right; however, the addition of " Jr." to 
my name would not be improper. 



DEAR B., I received your letter dated March the 1st about 
a week ago ; and it is not more to obey your demands than to 


fulfil my own desires that I give you this early answer. I am 
glad you disclaim all punctiliousness in our correspondence. 
For my own part I confess I have not the face to perform cere 
mony in person, and I equally detest it on paper; though as 
Tully says, It cannot blush. Friendship, like all truth, delights 
in plainness and simplicity, and it is the counterfeit alone that 
needs ornament and ostentation. I am so thoroughly persuaded 
of this, that when I observe any one over complaisant to me in 
his professions and promises, I am tempted to interpret his 
language thus: " As I have no real esteem for you, and for cer 
tain reasons think it expedient to appear well in your eye, I 
endeavor to varnish falsehood with politeness, which I think I 
can do in so ingenious a manner that so vain a blockhead as 
you cannot see through it." 

I would have you write to me when you feel as you used to 
do, when we were under the same roof, and you found it a 
recreation and release from businc-ss and books to come and 
chat an hour or two with me. The case is such with me that I 
am too remote from the post to have the same choice, but it 
seldom happens that an opportunity catches me out of a humor 
of writing to my old Nassovian friends, and you know what 
place you hold among them. 

I have not seen a single piece against the Doctor s address. 
I saw a piece advertised for publication in the Philadelphia 
Gazette, entitled " Candid remarks," &c., and that is all I know 
about it. These things seldom reach Virginia, and when they 
do, I am out of the way of them. I have a curiosity to read 
those authors who write with " all the rage of impotence/ 7 not 
because there is any excellence or wit in their writings, but 
because they implicitly proclaim the merit of those they are rail 
ing against, and give them an occasion of shewing by their 
silence and contempt that they are invulnerable. I am heartily 
obliged to you for your kind offer of sending me some of these 
performances. I should also willingly accept Freneau s works, 
and the " Sermons to Doctors in Divinity," which I hear are 
published, and whatever else you reckon worth reading. Please 
to note the cost of the articles, for I will by no means suffer our 

1773. LETTERS. 9 

acquaintance to be an expense on your part alone, and I have 
nothing fit to send you to make it reciprocal. In your next 
letter be more particular as to yourself, your intentions, present 
employments, &c., Erwin, McPherson, &c., the affairs of the 
college. Is the lottery like to come to anything ? There has 
happened no change in my purposes since you heard from me 
last. My health is a little better, owing, I believe, to more 
activity and less study, recommended by physicians. I shall 
try, if possible, to devise some business that will afford me a 
sight of you once more in Philadelphia within a year or two. 
I wish you would resolve the same with respect to me in Vir 
ginia, though within a shorter time. I am sorry my situation 
affords me nothing new, curious, or entertaining, to pay you for 
your agreeable information and remarks. You, being at the 
fountain head of political and literary intelligence, and I in an 
obscure corner, you must expect to be greatly loser on that 
score by our correspondence. But as you have entered upon it, 
I am determined to hold you to it, and shall give you some very 
severe admonitions whenever I perceive a remissness or brevity 
in your letters. I do not intend this as a beginning of reproof, 
but .as a caution to you never to make it necessary at all. 

If Mr. Horton is in Philadelphia, give him my best thanks for 
his kindness in assisting Mr. Wallace to do some business for 
[ ?] not long ago. 

I must re-echo your pressing invitations to [ ?] 

do with the more confidence as I have complied. 

I am, dear sir, yours, most unfeignedly. 


ORANGE COUNTY, VIRGINIA, 6th Sept., 1773. 

DEAR SIR, If I did not love you too well to scold at you, I 
should begin this with upbraiding your silence, contrary to 


your express promise and my earnest solicitations. The bundle 
of pamphlets you sent by the post has miscarried, or I would 
not trouble you with sending them again; but perhaps if you 
would inquire of the posts, they might still be discovered. 

I expect this will be handed to you by Mr. Erwin, who has 
been kind enough to extend his journey this far, whose praise 
is in every man s mouth here for an excellent discourse he this 
day preached for us. He will let you know everything that 
occurs to me worth mentioning at commencement, or Philadel 
phia, if you should not attend the commencement. Gratitude 
to him, and friendship to yourself and others, with some busi 
ness, perhaps, will induce me to visit Philadelphia or Princeton 
in the spring, if I should be alive, and should have health 

I set too high a value on Mr. Erwin s company to write 
much to you now, and besides have the like office of friendship 
to several other friends. 

I am, dear sir, yours most affectionately. 


January the 24th, 1774. 

MY WORTHY FRIEND, Yours of the 25th of last month came 
into my hands a few days past. It gave singular pleasure, not 
only because of the kindness expressed in it, but because I had 
reason to apprehend the letter you received last from me had 
miscarried, and I should fail in procuring the intelligence I 
wanted before the trip I designed in the spring. 

I congratulate you on your heroic proceedings in Philadel 
phia with regard to the tea. I wish Boston may conduct 
matters with as much discretion as they seem to do with bold 
ness. They seem to have great trials and difficulties by reason 
of the obduracy and ministerialism of their G-overnor. How- 

1774. LETTERS. 11 

ever, political contests are necessary sometimes, as well as 
military, to afford exercise and practice, and to instruct in the 
art of defending liberty and property. I verily believe the 
frequent assaults that have been made on America (Boston 
especially) will in the end prove of real advantage. 

If the Church of England had been the established and 
general religion in all the northern colonies as it has been 
among us here, and uninterrupted tranquillity had prevailed 
throughout the continent, it is clear to me that slavery and 
subjection might and would have been gradually insinuated 
among us. Union of religious sentiments begets a surprising 
confidence, and ecclesiastical establishments tend to great igno 
rance and corruption; all of which facilitate the execution of 
mischievous projects. 

But away with politics ! Let me address you as a student 
and philosopher, and not as a patriot, now. I am pleased that 
you are going to converse with the Edwards and Henrys and 
Charleses, &c., &c., who have swayed the British sceptre, though 
I believe you will find some of them dirty and unprofitable 
companions, unless you will glean instruction from their follies, 
and fall more in love with liberty by beholding such detestable 
pictures of tyranny and cruelty. 

I was afraid you would not easily have loosened your affec 
tions from the belles lettres. A delicate taste and warm imagi 
nation like yours must find it hard to give up such refined and 
exquisite enjoyments for the coarse and dry study of the law. 
It is like leaving a pleasant flourishing field for a barren desert ; 
perhaps I should not say barren either, because the law does 
bear fruit, but it is sour fruit, that must be gathered and 
pressed and distilled before it can bring pleasure or profit. I 
perceive I have made a very awkward comparison; but I got 
the thought by the end, and had gone too far to quit it before I 
perceived that it was too much entangled in my brain to run it 
through; and so you must forgive it. I myself used to have 
too great a hankering after those amusing studies. Poetry, 
wit, and criticism, romances, plays, <fcc., captivated me much; 
but I began to discover that they deserve but a small portion 


of a mortal s time, and that something more substantial, more 
durable, and more profitable, befits a riper age. It would be 
exceedingly improper for a laboring man to have nothing but 
flowers in his garden, or to determine to eat nothing but sweet 
meats and confections. Equally absurd would it be for a 
scholar and a man of business to make up his whole library 
with books of fancy, and feed his mind with nothing but such 
luscious performances. 

When you have an opportunity and write to Mr. Bracken- 
ridge, pray tell him I often think of him, and long to see him, 
and am resolved to do so in the spring. George Luckey was 
with me at Christmas, and we talked so much about old affairs 
and old friends, that I have a most insatiable desire to sec you 
all. Luckey will accompany me, and we are to set off on the 
10th of April, if no disaster befalls either of us. 

I want again to breathe your free air. I expect it will mend 
my constitution and confirm my principles. I have indeed as 
good an atmosphere at home as the climate will allow; but have 
nothing to brag of as to the state and liberty of my country. 
Poverty and luxury prevail among all sorts; pride, ignorance, 
and knavery among the priesthood, and vice and wickedness 
among the laity. This is bad enough, but it is not the worst I 
have to tell you. That diabolical, hell-conceived principle of 
persecution rages among some; and to their eternal infamy, the 
clergy can furnish their quota of imps for such business. This 
vexes me the worst of anything whatever. There are at this 
time in the adjacent country not less than five or six well- 
nieaning men in close jail for publishing their religious senti 
ments, which in the main are very orthodox. I have neither 
patience to hear, talk, or think of anything relative to this 
matter; for I have squabbled and scolded, abused and ridiculed, 
so long about it to little purpose, that I am without common 
patience. So I must beg you to pity me, and pray for liberty 
of conscience to all. 

I expect to hear from you once more before I see you, if time 
will admit; and want to know when the synod meets, and 
where; what the exchange is at, and as much about my friends 

1774. LETTERS. 13 

and other matters as you can [tell,] and think worthy of notice 
Till I see you, 

Adieu ! 

N. B. Our correspondence is too far advanced to require 
apology for bad writing and blots. 

Your letter to Mr. Wallace is yet in my hands, and shall be 
forwarded to you as soon as possible. I hear nothing from him 
by letter or fame. 



MY WORTHY FRIEND, I have another favor to acknowledge 
in the receipt of your kind letter of March the 4th. I did not 
intend to have written again to you before I obtained a nearer 
communication with you; but you have too much interest in my 
inclinations ever to be denied a request. 

Mr. Brackenridge s illness gives me great uneasiness; I think 
he would be a loss to America. His merit is rated so high by 
me that I confess, if he were gone, I could almost say with the 
poet, that his country could furnish such a pomp for death no 
more. But I solace myself from Finley s ludicrous descriptions 
as you do. 

Our Assembly is to meet the first of May, when it is expected 
something will be done in behalf of the dissenters. Petitions, 
I hear, are already forming among the persecuted Baptists, and 
I fancy it is in the thoughts of the Presbyterians also, to inter 
cede for greater liberty in matters of religion. For my own 
part, I cannot help being very doubtful of their succeeding in the 
attempt. The affair was on the carpet during the last session; 
but such incredible and extravagant stories were told in the 
House of the monstrous effects of the enthusiasm prevalent 
among the sectaries, and so greedily swallowed by their en^- 

14 WORKS orniADisoN. 17T4 

mies, that I believe they lost footing by it. And the bad name 
they still have with those who pretend^ too much contempt to 
examine into their principles and conduct, and are too much 
devoted to the ecclesiastical establishment to hear of the tolera 
tion of dissentients, I am apprehensive, will be again made a 
pretext for rejecting their requests. 

The sentiments of our people of fortune and fashion on this 
subject are vastly different from what you have been used to. 
That liberal, catholic, and equitable way of thinking, as to the 
rights of conscience, which is one of the characteristics of a free 
people, and so strongly marks the people of your province, is 
but little known among the zealous adherents to our hierarchy. 
We have, it is true, some persons in the Legislature of generous 
principles both in Religion and Politics; but number, not merit, 
you know, is necessary to carry points there. Besides, the 
clergy are a numerous and powerful body, have great influence 
at home by reason of their connection with and dependence on 
the Bishops and Crown, and will naturally employ all their art 
and interest to depress their rising adversaries; for such they 
must consider dissenters who rob them of the good will of the 
people, and may, in time, endanger their livings and security. 

You are happy in dwelling in a land where those inestimable 
privileges are fully enjoyed; and the public has long felt the 
good effects of this religious as well as civil liberty. Foreign 
ers have been encouraged to settle among you. Industry and 
virtue have been promoted by mutual emulation and mutual 
inspection; commerce and the arts have flourished; and I can 
not help attributing those continual exertions of genius which 
appear among you to the inspiration of liberty, and that love 
of fame and knowledge which always accompany it. Religious 
bondage shackles and debilitates the mind, and unfits it for 
every noble enterprise, every expanded prospect. How far 
this is the case with Virginia will more clearly appear when 
the ensuing trial is made. 

I am making all haste in preparing for my journey. It ap 
pears as if it would be the first of May before I can start, which 
I can more patiently bear, because I may possibly get no com- 

177 4. LETTERS. 15 

pany before that time; and it will answer so exactly with the 
meeting of the synod. George Luckey talks of joining me if I 
can wait till then. I am resolutely determined to come if it is 
in my power. If anything hinders me, it will be most likely 
the indisposition of my mother, who is in a very low state of 
health; and if she should grow worse, I am afraid she will be 
more unwilling to part with my brother, as she will be less able 
to bear a separation. If it should unfortunately happen that I 
should be forced off or give out coming, Luckey on his return 
to Virginia will bring me whatever publications you think 
worth sending, and among others [Caspapini s?] letters. 

But whether I come or not, be assured I retain the most ar 
dent affection and esteem for you, and the most cordial grati 
tude for your many generous kindnesses. It gives me real 
pleasure when I write to you that I can talk in this language 
without the least affectation, and without the suspicion of it, 
and that if I should omit expressing my love for you, your 
friendship can supply the omission; or if I make use of the most 
extravagant expressions of it, your corresponding affection can 
believe them to be sincere. This is a satisfaction and delight 
unknown to all who correspond for business and conveniency, 
but richly enjoyed by all who make pleasure and improvement 
the business of their communications. 


J. M. 

P. S. You need no longer direct to the care of Mr. Maury. 


July 1, 1774. 

DEAR SIR, I am once more got into my native land, and into 
the possession of my customary employments, solitude and con 
templation; though I must confess not a little disturbed by the 


sound of war, blood, and plunder, on the one hand, and the 
threats of slavery and oppression on the other. From the best 
accounts I can obtain from our frontiers, the savages are deter 
mined on the extirpation of the inhabitants, and no longer leave 
them the alternative of death or captivity. The consternation 
and timidity of the white people, who abandon their possessions 
without making the least resistance, are as difficult to be ac 
counted for as they are encouraging to the enemy. Whether it 
be owing to the unusual cruelty of the Indians, the want of 
necessary implements or ammunition for war, or to the igno 
rance and inexperience of many who, since the establishment of 
peace, have ventured into those new settlements, I can neither 
learn, nor with any certainty conjecture. However, it is confi 
dently asserted that there is not an inhabitant for some hundreds 
of miles back which have been settled for many years except 
those who are [forted ?] in or embodied by their military com 
manders. The state of things has induced Lord Dunmore. 
contrary to his intentions at the dissolution of the Assembly, to 
issue writs for a new election of members, whom he is to call 
together on the llth of August. 

As to the sentiments of the people of this Colony with respect 
to the Bostonians, I can assure you I find them very warm in 
their favor. The natives are very numerous and resolute, are 
making resolves in almost every county, and I believe arc will 
ing to fall in with the other Colonies in any expedient measure, 
even if that should be the universal prohibition of trade. It 
must not be denied, though, that the Europeans, especially the 
Scotch, and some interested merchants among the natives, dis 
countenance such proceedings as far as they dare ; alledging the 
injustice and perfidy of refusing to pay our debts to our gener 
ous creditors at home. This consideration induces some honest, 
moderate folks to prefer a partial prohibition, extending only 
to the importation of goods. 

We have a report here that Governor Gage has sent Lord 
Dunmore some letters relating to public matters in which he 
says he has strong hopes that he shall be able to bring things 
at Boston to an amicable settlement. I suppose you know 

1774. LETTERS. 17 

whether there be any truth in the report, or any just foundation 
for such an opinion in Gage. 

It has been said here by some, that the appointed fast was 
disregarded by every Scotch clergyman, though it was observed 
by most of the others who had timely notice of it. I cannot 
avouch it for an absolute certainty, but it appears no ways 

I was so lucky as to find Dean Tucker s tracts on my return 
home, sent by mistake with some other books imported this 
spring. I have read them with peculiar satisfaction and illumi 
nation with respect to the interests of America and Britain. 
At the same time his ingenious and plausible defence of par 
liamentary authority carries in it such defects and misrepresent 
ations, as confirm me in political orthodoxy after the same 
manner as the specious arguments of Infidels have established 
the faith of inquiring Christians. 

I am impatient to hear from you; and do now certainly [earn 
estly?] renew the stipulation for that friendly correspondence 
which alone can comfort me in the privation of your company. 
I shall be punctual in transmitting you an account of every 
thing that can be acceptable, but must freely absolve you from 
as strict an obligation, which your application to more import 
ant business will not allow, and which my regard for your ease 
and interests will not suffer me to enjoin. 

I am, dear sir, your faithful friend, 


VIRGINIA, ORANGE COUNTY, January 20, 1775. 

MY WORTHY FRIEND, Your very acceptable favors by Mr. 
Rutherford arrived safe, but I perceived by the date had a 
very tedious passage, which perhaps may be attributed to the 
craziness of the vessel in which you embarked them. I ought 

VOL. i. 2 


to mention, in particular, that I did not receive them till after 
I wrote my last, as an apology for my not then acknowledg 
ing it. 

I entirely acquiesce in your opinion of our friend Bracken- 
ridge s talents, and think his poem an indubitable proof of what 
you say on that head. It certainly has many real beauties in 
it, and several strokes of a strong original genius; but at the 
same time, as you observe, some very obvious defects, which I 
am afraid, too, are more discernible to common readers than its 
excellencies. If this be the case, I am apprehensive it will not 
answer the end proposed, which, as I collect from his letter to 
me, was to raise the character of his academy by the fame of 
its teacher. It is on this account, he says, he desires it might 
have a pretty general reading in this Government. For my 
own part, I could heartily wish, for the honor of the author and 
the success of the performance, that it might fall into the hands 
only of the impartial and judicious. I have shewn it to some 
of our middling sort of folks, and I am persuaded it will be not 
much relished by that class of my countrymen. The subject is 
itself frightful; blank verse, in some measure unintelligible, at 
least requires stricter attention than most people will bestow; 
and the antiquated phraseology, however eligible in itself, dis 
gusts such as affect modern fashion. In short, the theme is not 
interesting enough, nor the dress sufficiently a la mode to attract 
the notice of the generality. The same merit in a political 
or humorous composition would have rung the author s fame 
through every Province on the continent. Something of this 
kind I am encouraged to expect soon from a passage of his let 
ter in which he mentions a design of finishing a poem then in 
hand, on the present times; and from the description he gives 
of it, (if it be not too local,) I doubt not will meet with the 
public s applause. He informed me it would be ready for the 
press in three months from the time he wrote. If so, you must 
have seen it by this time. 

We are very busy at present in raising men and procuring 
the necessaries for defending ourselves and our friends in case 
of a sudden invasion. The extensiveness of the demands of the 

1775. LETTERS. 1$ 

Congress, and the pride of the British nation, together with the 
wickedness of the present ministry, seem, in the judgment of our 
politicians, to require a preparation for extreme events. There 
will, by the Spring I expect, be some thousands of well-trained, 
high-spirited men ready to meet danger whenever it appears, 
who are influenced by no mercenary principles, but bearing 
their own expenses, and having the prospect of no recompense 
but the honor and safety of their country. 

I suppose the inhabitants of your Province are more reserved 
in their behavior, if not more easy in their apprehension, from 
the prevalence of Quaker principles and politics. The Quakers 
are the only people with us who refuse to accede to the Conti 
nental association. I cannot forbear suspecting them to be 
under the control and direction of the leaders of the party in 
your quarter; for I take those of them that we have to be too 
honest and simple to have any sinister or secret views, and I 
do not observe anything in the association inconsistent with 
their religious principles. When I say they refuse to accede to 
the association, my meaning is that they refuse to sign it; that 
being the method used among us to distinguish friends from 
foes, and to oblige the common people to a more strict observ 
ance of it. I have never heard whether the like method has 
been adopted in the other Governments. 

I have not seen the following in print, and it seems to be so 
just a specimen of Indian eloquence and mistaken valor, that I 
think you will be pleased with it. You must make allowance 
for the unskilfulness of the interpreters. 

The speech of Logan, a Shawanese Chief, to Lord Dunmore: 
" I appeal to any white man to say, if ever he entered Logan s 
cabin hungry, and I gave him not meat; if ever he came cold or 
naked, and I gave him not clothing. During the course of the 
last long and bloody war, Logan remained idle in his tent, an 
advocate for peace; nay, such was my love for the whites, that 
those of my own country pointed at me as they passed by, and 
said, Logan is the friend of white men. I had even thought 
to live with you but for the injuries of one man. Col. Cressop, 
the last spring, in cold blood and unprovoked, cut off all the 


relo lions of Logan, not sparing even my women and children. 
There runs riot a drop of my blood in the veins of any human 
creature. This called on me for revenge. I have sought it; I 
have killed many; I have fully glutted my vengeance. For my 
country I rejoice at the beams of peace; but do not harbor a 
thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear. 
He will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to 
mourn for Logan ? not one ! " 

If you should see any of our friends from Princeton a little 
before the time of your intending to write to me, and could 
transmit any little intelligence concerning the health, &c., of my 
little brother there, it would be very acceptable to me, and very 
gratifying to a fond mother; but I desire it may only be done 
when it will cost you less than five words. 

We had with us a little before Christmas the Rev. Moses 
Allen, on his return from Boston to Charlestown. He told me 
he came through Philadelphia, but did not see you, though he ex 
presses a singular regard for you, and left his request with me 
that you would let him hear from you whenever it is convenient, 
promising to return the kindness with punctuality. He trav 
elled with considerable equipage for a dissenting ecclesiastic, 
and seems fo be willing to superadd the airs of the fine gentle 
man to the graces of the spirit. I had his company for several 
days, during which time he preached two sermons with general 
approbation. His discourses were above the common run some 
degree; and his appearance in the pulpit on the whole was no 

discredit to [ ?] He retains too much of his pristine 

levity, but promises amendment. I wish he may for the sake 
of himself, his friends, and his flock. I only add that he seems 
to be one of those geniuses that are formed for shifting in the 
world rather than shining in a college, and that I really believe 
him to possess a friendly and generous disposition. 

You shall ere long hear from me again. Till then, Vive, 
vale et Lcetare. 



WILLIAMSBURG, June 27. 1776. 
HOXD.SIR * * * * * 

It is impossible for me to say when the Convention will ad 
journ; but am pretty certain it will not be so soon as was 
expected when I wrote by . 

It is said that seven ships, some of them very large, have 
within a few days past come to the aid of Dunmore. Whether 
they be transports or ships of war is not yet determined. 
I am, dear sir, yours affectionately. 

[Among Mr. Madison s papers is the following copy, both in print and manu 
script, of the Declaration of Rights, as reported by the select committee of the 
Virginia convention of 1776. It corresponds in the main, though not without 
occasional variations, with the original draft prepared by Colonel George Mason. 
In the last article, to which the note there subjoined by Mr. Madison refers, the 
draft of the committee and that of Colonel Mason were in all respects identical.] 

The following Declaration was reported to the Convention by 
the committee appointed to prepare the same, and referred to 
the consideration of a committee of the whole Convention; and 
in the mean time is ordered to be printed for the perusal of the 
members : 

A DECLARATION OF RIGHTS made by the representatives of 
the good people of Virginia, assembled in full and free conven 
tion, which rights do pertain to us and our posterity, as the 
basis and foundation of government. 

1. That all men are born equally free and independent, and 
have certain inherent natural rights, of which they cannot, by 
any compact, deprive their posterity ; among which are the 
enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and 
possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and 

2. That all power is vested in, and consequently derived 


from, the people; that magistrates are their trustees and serv 
ants, and at all times amenable to them. 

3. That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the 
common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, 
or community: of all the various modes and forms of govern 
ment, that is best which is capable of producing the greatest 
degree of happiness and safety, and is most effectually secured 
against the danger of maladministration; and that whenever 
any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these 
purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, 
unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, 
in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public 

4. That no man or set of men are entitled to exclusive or 
separate emoluments or privileges from the community but in 
consideration of public services; which not being descendible or 
hereditary, the idea of a man born a magistrate, a legislator, or 
a judge, is unnatural and absurd. 

5. That the legislative and executive powers of the State 
should be separate and distinct from the judicative; and that 
the members of the two first may be restrained from oppression 
by feeling and participating the burdens of the people, they 
should, at fixed periods, be reduced to a private station, return 
into that body from which they were originally taken, and the 
vacancies be supplied by frequent, certain, and regular elec 

6. That elections of members to serve as representatives of 
the people, in Assembly, ought to be free; and that all men, 
having sufficient evidence of permanent common interest with 
and attachment to the community, have the right of suffrage. 

7. That no part of a man s property can be taken from him, 
or applied to public uses, without his own consent or that of 
his legal representatives; nor are the people bound by any laws 
but such as they have, in like manner, assented to for their 
common good. 

8. That all power of suspending laws, or the execution of 
laws by any authority without consent of the representative? 


of the people, is injurious to their rights and ought not to be 

9. That laws having retrospect to crimes, and punishing 
offences committed before the existence of such laws, are gene 
rally oppressive and ought to be avoided. 

10. That in all capital or criminal prosecutions a man hath a 
right to demand the cause and nature of his accusation, to be 
confronted with the accusers or witnesses, to call for evidence 
in his favor, and to a speedy trial by an impartial jury of his 
vicinage, without whose unanimous consent he cannot be found 


guilty, nor can he be compelled to give evidence against him 
self ; that no man be deprived of his liberty except by the law 
of the land, or the judgment of his peers. 

11. That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor exces 
sive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. 

12. That warrants unsupported by evidence, whereby any 
officer or messenger may be commanded or required to search 
suspected places, or to seize any person or persons, his or their 
property, not particularly described, are grievous and oppres 
sive, and ought not to be granted. 

13. That in controversies respecting property, and in suits 
between man and man, the ancient trial by jury is preferable to 
any other, and ought to be held sacred. 

14. That the freedom of the press is one of the great bul 
warks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic 

15. That a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of 
the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe 
defence of a free State; that standing armies in time of peace 
should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases 
the military should be under strict subordination to, and gov 
erned by, the civil power. 

16. That the people have a right to uniform government, and 
therefore that no government separate from, or independent of 
the government of Virginia, ought of right to be erected or 
established within the limits thereof. 

17. That no free government or the blessings of liberty can 


be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, 
moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent 
recurrence to fundamental principles. 

18. That Religion, or the duty which we owe to our CREATOR, 
and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason 
and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore that all 
men should enjoy the fullest toleration in the exercise of reli 
gion according to the dictates of conscience, unpunished and 
unrestrained by the magistrate, unless, under color of religion, 
any man disturb the peace, the happiness, or safety of society; 
and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian for 
bearance, love, and charity towards each other.* 

[The following draught of a " Plan of Government," which seems to have been 
the original sketch of the Virginia Constitution of 177(5, is found among Mr. 
Madison s papers, both in print and transcribed by him; and the two notes, the 
one at the beginning and the other at the end, are subjoined in his hand-writing 
to the manuscript copy:] 


Laid before the Committee of the House, which they have 

ordered to be printed for the perusal of the members. t 
1. Let the legislative, executive, and judicative departments 

* On the printed paper here literally copied is a manuscript variation of this 
last article, making it read : i; That religion, or the duty we owe to our Creator, 
and the manner of discharging it, being under the direction of reason and con 
viction only, not of violence or compulsion, all men are equally entitled to the 
full and free exercise of it according to the dictates of conscience; and therefore 
that no man or class of men ought, on account of religion, to be invested with 
peculiar emoluments or privileges, nor subjected to any penalties or disabilities, 
unless, under color of religion, the preservation of equal liberty and the exist 
ence of the State be manifestly endangered. 

This variation is in the handwriting of J. M., and is recollected to have been 
brought forward by him, with a view more particularly to substitute for the idea 
expressed by the term " toleration " an absolute and equal right in all to ihe 
exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience. The proposal wa 
moulded into the last article in the Declaration as finally established, from which 
the term " toleration" is excluded. J. M. 

f An alteration in the handwriting of J. M. erases " of the House," and inserts 
after committee, appointed for that purpose; and adds at the end after " members. 1 


be separate and distinct, so that neither exercise the powers 
properly belonging to the other. 

2. Let the legislative be formed of two distinct branches, who 
together shall be a complete Legislature. They shall meet 
once or oftener every year, and shall be called the GENERAL 

3. Let one of these be called the Lower House of Assembly, 
and consist of two delegates or representatives, chosen for each 
county annually, by such men as have resided in the same for 
one year last past, are freeholders of the county, possess an 
estate of inheritance of land in Virginia of at least one thousand 
pounds value, and are upwards of twenty-four years of age. 

4. Let the other be called the Upper House of Assembly, and 
consist of twenty-four members, for whose election let the differ 
ent counties be divided into twenty-four districts, and each 
county of the respective district, at the time of the election of 
its delegates for the Lower House, choose twelve deputies or 
sub-electors, being freeholders residing therein, and having an 
estate of inheritance of lands within the district, of at least five 
hundred pounds value. In case of dispute, the qualifications to 
be determined by the majority of the said deputies. Let these 
deputies choose by ballot one member for the Upper House of 
Assembly, who is a freeholder of the district, hath been a resi 
dent therein for one year last past, possesses an estate of inher 
itance of lands in Virginia of at least two thousand pounds 
value, and is upwards of twenty-eight years of age. To keep 
up this Assembly by rotation let the districts be equally divided 
into four classes and numbered. At the end of one year, after 
the general election, let the six members elected by the first 
division be displaced, rendered ineligible for four years, and 

tf the House; making the whole read, Laid before the committee appointed for 
that purpose, which they have ordered to be printed for the perusal of the mem 
bers of the House. 

From this correction it appears that what was laid before the committee was 
printed by its order, not by that of the Convention, as was done in the case of the 
Declaration of Rights," reported by Mr. Gary from the appointed committee: 
nor is there in the journal any order for printing any plan of government reported 
to the Convention from a committee. J. M. 


the vacancies be supplied in the manner aforesaid. Let this 
rotation be applied to each division according to its number, 
and continued in due order annually. 

5. Let each House settle its own rules of proceeding; direct 
writs of election for supplying intermediate vacancies; and let 
the right of suffrage, both in the election of members for the 
Lower House and of deputies for the districts, be extended to 
those having leases for land in which there is an unexpired 
term of seven years, and to every housekeeper who hath resided 
for one year last past in the county, and hath been the father 
of three children in this country. 

6. Let all laws originate in the lower House, to be approved 
or rejected by the upper House, or to be amended with the 
consent of the lower House, except money bills, which in no 
instance shall be altered by the upper House, but wholly ap 
proved or rejected. 

7. Let a Governor, or Chief Magistrate, be chosen annually 
by joint ballot of both Houses, who shall not continue in that 
office longer than three years successively, and then be ineligi 
ble for the next three years. Let an adequate but moderate 
salary be settled on him during his continuance in office; and 
let him, with the advice of a Council of State, exercise the exec 
utive powers of Government, and the power of proroguing or 
adjourning the General Assembly, or of calling it upon emer 
gencies, and of granting reprieves or pardons, except in cases 
where the prosecution shall have been carried on by the Lower 
House of Assembly. 

8. Let a privy Council or Council of State, consisting of eight 
members, be chosen by joint ballot of both Houses of Assembly 
promiscuously, from their own members, or the people at large, 
to assist in the administration of Government. 

Let the Governor be President of this Council; but let them 
annually choose one of their own members as Vice President, 
who, in case of the death or absence of the Governor, shall act 
as Lieutenant Governor. Let these members be sufficient to 
act, and their advice be entered of record in their proceedings. 
Let them appoint their own clerk, who shall have a salary set- 


tied by law, and taken with oath of secrecy, in such matters as 
he shall be directed to conceal, unless called upon by the Lower 
House of Assembly for information. Let a sum of money ap 
propriated to that purpose be divided annually among the mem 
bers in proportion to their attendance, and let them be incapa 
ble, during their continuance in office, of sitting in either House 
of Assembly. Let two members be removed by ballot of their 
own Board at the end of every three years, and be ineligible 
for the next three years. Let this be regularly continued by 
rotation, so as that no member be removed before he hath been 
three years in the Council; and let these vacancies, as well as 
those occasioned by death or incapacity, be supplied by new 
elections in the same manner as the first. 

9. Let the Governor, with the advice of the Privy Council, 
have the appointment of the militia officers, and the government 
of the militia, under the laws of the country. 

10. Let the two Houses of Assembly, by joint ballot, appoint 
Judges of the Supreme Court, Judges in Chancery, Judges of 
the Admiralty, and the Attorney General, to be commissioned 
by the Governor, and continue in office during good behaviour. 
In -case of death or incapacity, let the Governor, with the advice 
of the Privy Council, appoint persons to succeed in office pro 
tempo re, to be approved or displaced by both Houses. Let 
these officers have fixed and adequate salaries, and be incapable 
of having a seat in either House of Assembly, or in the Privy 
Council, except the Attorney General and the Treasurer, who 
may be permitted to a seat in the lower House of Assembly. 

11. Let the Governor and Privy Council appoint justices of 
the peace for the counties. Let the clerks of all the courts, the 
sheriffs, and coroners, be nominated by the respective courts, 
approved by the Governor and Privy Council, and commissioned 
by the Governor. Let the clerks be continued during good 
behaviour, and all fees be regulated by law. Let the justices 
appoint constables. 

12. Let the Governor, any of the Privy Counsellors, Judges 
of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of Government, for 
mal-administration or corruption be prosecuted by the Lower 


House of Assembly, (to be carried on by the Attorney General, 
or such other person as the House may appoint,) in the Supreme 
Court of common law. If found guilty, let him or them be 
either removed from office, or forever disabled to hold any 
office under the Government, or subjected to such pains or 
penalties as the laws shall direct. 

13. Let all commissions run in the name of the Commonwealth 
of Virginia, and be tested by the Governor, with the seal of the 
Commonwealth annexed. Let writs run in the same manner, 
and be tested by the clerks of the several courts. Let indict 
ments conclude, against the peace and dignity of tJie Common 

14. Let a Treasurer be appointed annually, by joint ballot 
of both Houses. 

15. In order to introduce this Government, let the repre 
sentatives of the people now met in Convention choose twenty- 
four members to be an Upper House, and let both Houses, by 
joint ballot, choose a Governor and Privy Council; the Upper 
House to continue until the last day of March next, and the 
other officers until the end of the succeeding session of Assem 
bly. In case of vacancies, the President to issue writs for new 


ORANGE, March, 1777. 

HOND.SlR * * * * * * 

The following odd affair has furnished the court of this county 
with some very unexpected business. 

Two persons travelling from Philadelphia to the southward, 
one of them a Frenchman and an officer in the Continental 

* It is not known with certainty from whom this first draught of a plan of 
Government proceeded. There is a faint tradition that Meriwether Smith 
spoke of it as originating with him. What is remembered by J. M. is, that George 
Mason was the most prominent member in discussing and developing the Consti 
tution in its passage through the Convention. The preamble is known to have 
been furnished by Thomas Jefferson. J. M. 

17T7. LETTERS. 29 

army, and the other a man of decent figure, came to the court 
house on the evening of the court day, and immediately inquired 
for a member of the committee. Being withdrawn with several 
members into a private room, they gave information that they fell 
in with a man on the road a few miles from the court-house, who, 
in the course of conversation on public affairs, gave abundant 
proof of his being an adherent to the King of Great Britain, 
and a dangerous enemy to the State; that he ran into the most 
outrageous abuse of our proceedings, and on their threatening 
to inform against him, in the most daring manner bid defiance 
to committees, or whoever should pretend to judge or punish 
him. They said the man they alluded to had come with them 
to the court-house, and they made no doubt but they could point 
him out in the crowd. On their so doing, the culprit appeared 
to be Benjamin Haley. As the committee had no jurisdiction 
in the case, it was referred to a justice of the peace. Every 
one seemed to be agreed that his conduct was a direct violation 
of law, and called aloud for public notice; but the witnesses 
being travellers, and therefore unable to attend at a trial, it 
was thought best not to undertake a prosecution which prom 
ised nothing but impunity and matter of triumph to the offender. 
Here the affair dropped, and every one supposed was entirely 
at an end; but as the Frenchman was accidentally passing 
through the room where Haley was, he took occasion to ad 
monish the people of his being a disaffected person, and up 
braided him for his tory principles. This introduced a debate, 
which was continued for some time with great heat on the part 
of the Frenchman, and great insolence on the part of Haley. 
At the request of the latter, they at length both appeared before 
a justice of the peace. Haley at first evaded the charges of 
his antagonist; but after some time, said he scorned to be coun 
terfeit, and in answer to some questions that were put to him, 
signified that we were in the state of rebellion and had revolted 
from our lawful Sovereign, and that if the King had justice 
done him, his authority would still be in exercise among us. 
This passed in the presence of twenty or thirty persons, and 
rendered the testimony of the travellers needless. A warrant 


for arresting him was immediately issued and executed. The 
criminal went through his examination, in which his very pleas 
seemed to aggravate his guilt. Witnesses were summoned, 
sworn, and their evidences taken; and on his obstinate refusal 
to give security for his appearance, he was committed to close 
gaol. This happened about eight o clock. I have since heard 
he begged about one o clock in the morning to be admitted to 
bail, and went home, but not without threats of revenge, and 
making public declaration that he was King George s man. I 
have stated the case thus particularly that you may, if an op 
portunity occurs, take the advice of some gentleman skilled in 
the law, on the most proper and legal mode of proceeding 
against him. 


WILLIAMSBUKG, January 23, 1778. 

HONORED SIR, I got safe to this place on Tuesday follow 
ing the day I left home, and at the earnest invitation of my 
kinsman, Mr. Madison,* have taken my lodgings in a room of 
the President s house, which is a much better accommodation 
than I could have promised myself. 

You will be informed in due time by advertisement from the 
Governor what is proper to be done with the shoes, c., col 
lected for the army. You will be able to obtain so circumstan 
tial an account of public affairs from Major Moore, that I may 
spare myself the trouble of anticipating it. 

Although I well know how inconvenient and disagreeable it 
is to you to continue to act as Lieutenant of the county, I can 
not help informing you that a resignation at this juncture is 
here supposed to have a very unfriendly aspect on the execu 
tion of the draught, and consequently to betray at least a want 
of patriotism and perseverance. This is so much the case that 
a recommendation of county Lieutenant this day received by 

* The Rev. James Madison, afterwards Bishop, was at this time President of 
William and Mary College. 

1778. LETTERS. 31 

the Governor, to supply the place of one who has resigned to 
the court, produced a private verbal message to the old Lieu 
tenant to continue to act at least as long as the present meas 
ures were in execution. 

I am, dear sir, your affectionate son. 


WILLIAMSBURG. March 6, 1778. 

HONORED SIR- * * * * * * 

We have no news here that can be depended on. It is said 
by Mr. King, who is just from Petersburg, that a gentleman was 
at that place who informed that sundry persons had arrived at 
Edcnton from Providence Island, who affirmed that they saw in 
Providence a London paper giving an account that Bourgoyne s 
disaster had produced the most violent fermentation in England; 
that the Parliament had refused to grant the supplies for carry 
ing on the war, and that a motion for acknowledging our inde 
pendence was overruled by a small majority only. 

The people who bring this news to Edenton, as the story 
goes, were prisoners with the enemy at Providence, when they 
were relieved by a New England privateer, which suddenly 
landed her men, took possession of the small fort that com 
manded the harbor, and secured several vessels that lay in it, 
one of which was given up to these men to bring them to the 
continent. I leave you to form your own judgment as to the 
credibility of this report. I wish it carried stronger marks of 

The Governor has just received a letter from the captain of 
the Trench frigate I mentioned in my last, informing him of his 
safe arrival in North Carolina with a rich cargo of various 
useful and important articles, which will be offered for sale to 
us. The frigate belongs to a company at Nantes, in France. 
We also hear, but in a less authentic manner, that 7,000 tents 
have arrived at Martinique, on their way from France to the 
grand army. 


A letter from New York town, this moment received, informs 
us that an exchange of prisoners is at last agreed on between 
W. and H. 

Your affectionate son. 


WILLIAMSBURG, December 8, 1779. 

HONORED SIR, The assembly have not yet concluded their 
plan for complying with the requisitions from Congress. It 
may be relied on that that cannot be done without very heavy 
taxes on every species of property. Indeed, it is thought ques 
tionable whether it will not be found absolutely impossible. 
No exertions, however, ought to be omitted to testify our zeal 
to support Congress in the prosecution of the war. It is also 
proposed to procure a large sum on loan by stipulating to pay 
the interest in tobacco. A tax on this article necessary for 
that purpose is to be collected. Being very imperfectly ac 
quainted with the proceedings of the Assembly on this matter, 
I must refer you for the particulars to the return of Major 
Moore, or some future opportunity. The law for escheats and 
forfeitures will be repealed as it respects orphans, &c. The 
effects of the measures taken by the Assembly on the credit of 
our money and the prices of things cannot be predicted. If 
our expectations had not been so invariably disappointed, they 
ought to be supposed very considerable. But from the rapid 
progress of depreciation at present, and the universal struggle 
among sellers to bring up prices, I cannot flatter myself with 
the hope of any great reformation. Corn is already at 20, 
and rising. Tobacco is also rising. Pork will probably com 
mand any price. Imported goods exceed everything else many 
hundreds per cent. 

I am much at a loss how to dispose of Willey.* I cannot 
think it would be expedient in the present state of things to 

* The familiar name of his younger brother. 

1779. LETTERS. 33 

send him out of the State. From a new arrangement of the 
college here, nothing is in future to be taught but the higher 
and rarer branches of science. The preliminary studies must, 
therefore, be pursued in private schools or academies. If the 
academy at Prince Edward is so far dissolved that you think 
his return thither improper, I would recommend his being put 
under the instruction of Mr. Maury, rather than suffer him to be 
idle at home. The languages, (including English,) geography, 
and arithmetic, ought to be his employment, till he is prepared 
to receive a finish to his education at this place. 

By the late change, also, in the college, the former custom of 
furnishing the table for the president and professors is to be 
discontinued. I am induced by this consideration to renew my 
request for the flour mentioned to you. It will perhaps be the 
only opportunity I may have of requiting received and singular 
favors; and, for the reason just assigned, will be extremely con 
venient. I wish to know without any loss of time how far this 
supply may be reckoned on. Perhaps Mr. R. Burnley would 
receive and store it for me. 

I am desired by a gentleman here to procure for him two 
bear skins to cover the foot of his chariot. If they can be 
bought anywhere in your neighborhood, I beg you or Ambrose 
will take the trouble to inquire for them, and send them to 
Captain Anderson, at Hanover town. If the flour should come 
down, the same opportunity will serve for them. Captain 
Anderson may be informed that they are for Mr. Norton. If 
they can be got without too much trouble, I should be glad of 
succeeding, as he will rely on my promise to procure them for 

Having nothing to add under the head of news, I subscribe 
myself your dutiful son. 

VOL. i. 3 



PHILADELPHIA, March 20, 17SO. 


The extreme badness of the roads and frequency of rains 
rendered my journey so slow that I did not reach this place till 
Saturday last. The only public intelligence I have to commu 
nicate, is that the great and progressive depreciation of the 
paper currency had introduced such disorder and perplexity 
into public affairs, for the present, and threatened to load the 
United States with such an intolerable burden of debt, that 
Congress have thought it expedient to convert the 200,000,000 
of dollars now in circulation into a real debt of 5,000,000, by 
establishing the exchange at 40 for 1 ; and taxes for calling it 
in during the ensuing year are to be payable, at the option of 
the people, in specie or paper, according to that difference. In 
order to carry on public measures in future, money is to be 
emitted under the combined faith of Congress and the several 
States, secured on permanent and specific funds to be provided 
by the latter. This scheme was finally resolved on on Saturday 
last. It has not yet been printed, but will be immediately. I 
shall transmit a copy to you by the first opportunity. The 
little time I have been here makes it impossible for me to enter 
into a particular delineation of it. It will probably create 
great perplexity and complaints in many private transactions. 
Congress have recommended to the States to repeal their 
tender laws, and to take measures for preventing injustice as 
much as possible. It is probable that in the case of loans to 
the public, the state of depreciation at the time they were made 
will be the rule of payment; but nothing is yet decided on that 


PHILADELPHIA, October 3, 1780. 

DEAR SIR, I had the pleasure of receiving yours of the 25th 
ult. yesterday, and am sorry it is not yet in my power to grat- 


ify your hopes with any prospect of a successful issue to this 
campaign. The reports of the approach or arrival of a French 
fleet continue to be circulated, and to prove groundless. If any 
foreign operations are undertaken on the continent, it will 
probably be against the Floridas by the Spaniards. A Spanish 
gentleman, who resides in this city, has received information 
from the Governor of Cuba that an armament would pass from 
the Havannah to Pensacola towards the end of last month, and 
that ten or twelve ships of the line, and as many thousand troops, 
would soon be in readiness for an expedition against St. Augus 
tine. It would be much more for the credit of that nation, as 
well as for the common good, if instead of wasting their time 
and resources in these separate and unimportant enterprises, 
they would join heartily with the French in attacking the 
enemy, where success would produce the desired effect. 

The enclosed papers contain all the particulars which have 
been received concerning the apostacy and plot of Arnold. A 
variety of his iniquitous jobs prior to this chef d ceuvre of his 
villainy, carried on under cover of his military authority, have 
been detected among his papers, and involve a number of per 
sons both within and without the enemy s lines. The embark 
ation lately going on at New York, and given out to be 
destined for Virginia or Rhode Island, was pretty certainly a 
part of the plot against West Point; although the first repre 
sentation of it has not yet been officially contradicted. 

With sincere regard, I am, Dr sir, your obt and humble serv 


PHILADELPHIA, October 10, 1780. 

DEAR SIR, Your favor of the 1st instant came safe to hand 
yesterday. The enclosed was sent to Mr. Pendleton, who is 
still in town. 


All we know of the several fleets in the American seas, is 
that Rodney with a few ships is at New York, the remainder 
having joined Graves and Arbutlmot, whom we know nothing 
about. Ternay is still at Rhode Island. The main French 
fleet under Guichen left the West Indies about the time first 
mentioned, with a large fleet of merchantmen under its convoy, 
and has not since been heard of. The residue of the French 
fleet is in the West Indies, but we do not hear of their being 
any way employed. It is said an English expedition is prepar 
ing at Jamaica against some of the Spanish settlements. The 
Spanish expeditions against the Floridas I believe I mentioned 
in my last. 

We have private accounts, through a channel which has sel 
dom deceived, that a very large embarkation is still going on 
at New York. I hope Virginia will not be surprised, in case 
she should be the meditated victim. 

Andre was hung as a spy on the 2d instant. Clinton made 
a frivolous attempt to save him by pleading the passport granted 
by Arnold. He submitted to his fate in a manner that showed 
him to be worthy of a better one. His coadjutor, Smith, will 
soon follow him. The hero of the plot, although he may for the 
present escape an ignominious death, must lead an ignominious 
life, which, if any of his feelings remain, will be a sorer punish 
ment. It is said that he is to be made a Brigadier, and em 
ployed in some predatory expedition against the Spaniards, in 
which he may gratify his thirst for gold. It is said with more 
probability, that his baseness is universally despised by those 
who have taken advantage of it, and that some degree of resent 
ment is mixed with their contempt, on account of the loss of 
their darling officer, to which he was accessory. 

With sincere regard, I am, dear sir, your obedient, humble 

1780. LETTERS. 37 


PHILADELPHIA, November 14, 1780. 

DR SIR, Your favor of the 6th instant came to hand yester 
day. Mr. Griffin, by whom you appear also to have written, 
has not yet arrived. 

1 c gives me great pleasure to find that the enemy s numbers 
are so much less formidable than was at first computed; but 
the information from New York makes it not improbable that 
the blank in the computation may shortly be filled up. General 
Washington wrote to Congress on the 4th instant that another 
embarkation was going on at that place, and in another letter 
of the 7th he says that, although he had received no further 
intelligence on the subject, he had reason still to believe that 
such a measure was in contemplation. Neither the amount nor 
the object of it, however, had been ascertained. 

The inroads of the enemy on the frontier of New York have 
been distressing and wasteful almost beyond their own example. 
They have totally laid in ashes a fine settlement called Schoharie, 
which was capable, General Washington says, of yielding no 
less" than 80,000 bushels of grain for public consumption. Such 
a loss is inestimable, and is the more to be regretted because 
both local circumstances and the energy of that Government 
left little doubt that it would have been applied to public use. 

I fancy the taking of Quebec was a mere invention. Your 
letter gave me the first account of such a report. A different 
report concerning the second division of the French fleet has 
sprung up, as you will see by the enclosed paper. It is believed 
here by many, and some attention given to it by all. It is also 
said that Rodney has sailed from New York with twenty ships 
for Europe. If he has sailed at all, and the first report be true 
also, it is more likely that he has gone out to meet the French. 

The late exchange has liberated about one hundred and forty 
officers and all our privates at New York, amounting to four 
hundred and seventy-six. General Washington has acceded 
to a proposal of a further exchange of the convention officers 


without attaching any privates to them, which will liberate 
almost the whole residue of our officers at that place. 

I am, sir, with the highest esteem and regard, your obt friend 
and servt. 


PHILADELPHIA, November 21, 1780. 

DEAR SIR, Your favor of the 13th came safe yesterday. 
The past week has brought forth very little of consequence, 
except the disagreeable and, I fear, certain information of the 
arrival of the Cape fleet. Our last account of the embarkation 
at New York was that the ships had fallen down to the Hook, 
that the number of troops was quite unknown, as well as their 
destination, except that in general it was southwardly. It is 
still said that Philips is to command this detachment. If the 
projected junction between Leslie and Cornwallis had not been 
so opportunely frustrated by the gallant volunteers at King s 
Mountain, it is probable that Philips would have reinforced the 
former, as the great force in his rear would otherwise have 
rendered every advance hazardous. 

At present, it seems more likely that the declining state of 
their Southern affairs will call their attention to that quarter. 
They can, it is well known, regain at any time their present 
footing in Virginia, if it should be thought expedient to aban 
don it, or to collect in their forces to a defensible point; but 
every retrograde step they take towards Charlestown proves 
fatal to their general plan. Mr. J. Adams, in a letter of the 
23d of August, from Amsterdam, received yesterday, says that 
General Prevost had sailed from England with a few frigates 
for Cape Fear, in order to facilitate the operations of their arms 
in North Carolina, and that the Ministry were determined to 
make the Southern States the scene of a very active winter 
campaign. No intimation is given by Mr. Adams of the num 
ber of troops under General Prevost. The second division of 

1780. LETTERS. 39 

the French fleet mentioned in my last to have been off Ber 
mudas has not yet made its appearance. It is now either [?] 
supposed to have been a British one. 

The death of General Woodford is announced in a New 
York paper of the 17th. I have not seen the paper, but am 
told that no particulars are mentioned. I suppose it will reach 
his friends before this will be received, through some other 



PHILADELPHIA, December 5, 1780. 

DEAR SIR, I have your favor of the 27th ult., and con 
gratulate you on the deliverance of our country from the dis 
tresses of actual invasion. The spirit it has shewn on this 
occasion will, I hope, in some degree protect it from a second 

.Congress yesterday received letters from Mr. Jay and Mr. 
Carmichael, as late as the 4th and 9th of September. The 
general tenor of them is that we are not to rely on much aid in 
the article of cash from Spain, her finances and credit being 
scarcely adequate to her own necessities, and that the British 
emissaries are indefatigable in misrepresenting our affairs in 
that kingdom, and in endeavoring to detach it from the war. 
The character, however, of the Catholic King for steadiness and 
probity, and the entire confidence of our allies in him, forbid 
any distrust on our part. Portugal, on the pressing remon 
strances of France and Spain, has at length agreed to shut her 
ports against English prizes, but still refuses to accede to the 
armed neutrality. Mr. Adams writes that the news of the fate 
of the Quebec and Jamaica fleets arrived at London nearly 
about the same time, and had a very serious effect on all ranks, 
as well as on stocks and insurance. 

Our information from the West Indies gives a melancholy 


picture of the effects of the late tempest. Martinique has suf 
fered very considerably, both in shipping and people. Not less 
than six hundred houses have been destroyed in St. Vincent s. 
The Spaniards in Cuba, also, have not escaped, and it is reported 
that the fleet on its way from the Havannah to Pensacola has 
been so disabled and dispersed as to defeat the expedition for the 
present. On the other side, our enemies have suffered severely. 
The Ajax, a ship of the line, and two frigates stationed off St. 
Lucie, to intercept the Martinique trade, are certainly lost, with 
the greatest part, if not the whole, of their crews; and there is 
great reason to believe that several other capital ships that 
have not been since heard of have shared the like fate. The 
island of St. Lucie is totally defaced. In Barbadoes, also, 
scarce a house remains entire, and one thousand live hundred 
persons at least have perished. One of the largest towns in 
Jamaica has been totally swept away, and the island otherwise 
much damaged. The consequences of this calamity must afford 
a striking proof to Great Britain of her folly in shutting our 
ports against her West India commerce, and transferring the 
advantage of our friendship to her enemies. 
I am, Dr sir, yours sincerely. 


PHILADELPHIA, December, 1780. 

DEAR SIR, I had the pleasure of yours of the 2d instant 
yesterday. We have not heard a word of the fleet which lately 
left the Chesapeake. There is little doubt that the whole of it 
has gone to the southward. 

Our intelligence from Europe confirms the accession of Por 
tugal to the neutral league, so far at least as to exclude the 
English from the privileges which their vessels of war have 
hitherto enjoyed in her ports. The Ariel, commanded by P. 
Jones, which had on board the clothing, &c., which has been 
long expected from France, was dismasted a few days after she 

1781. LETTERS. 41 

sailed, and obliged to return into port; an event which must 
prolong the sufferings which our army has been exposed to from 
the delay of this supply. 

Mr. Sartine, the Minister of the French Marine, has been 
lately removed from the administration of that department. 
His successor is the Marquis de Castries, who is held out to us 
as a man of greater activity, and from whom we may hope for 
more effectual co-operation. 

An Irish paper informs us that Mr. Laurens was committed 
to the Tower on the 6th of October, by the three Secretaries of 
State, on suspicion of high treason. As the warrant, with the 
names of the Secretaries subscribed, (with some other particu 
lars,) is inserted, no hope remains of the fact being a forgery. 

With very sincere regard, I am, Dr sir, your obt sert. 


PHILADELPHIA, January 23, 1781. 

DEAR SIR, i have nothing new this week for you but two 
reports ; the first is, that very great discontents prevail in New 
York among the German troops, for causes pretty similar to 
those which produced the eruption in the Pennsylvania line. It 
is further said on this head, that a body of two hundred have 
deserted from Long Island and gone to Rhode Island. The 
other report is, that the British minister either has or proposes 
to carry a bill into Parliament authorizing the commanding 
officer in America to permit and promote a trade with us in 
British goods of every kind, except linens and woollens. This 
change of system is said to be the advice of some notable 
refugees, with a view to revive an intercourse as far as possible 
between the two countries, and particularly to check the habit 
that is taking place in the consumption of French manufactures. 
Whatever their public views may be, it is certain that such a 
plan would open fine prospects to them in a private view. 

We have received no fresh or certain information of the 


designs of F. and Spain in assembling so great a force at Ca 
diz. There does not appear to be any object in that quarter 
except Gibraltar. Should the attempts be renewed against 
that place, it will prove that the former has not that absolute 
sway, in the cabinet of the latter which has been generally 
imagined. Nothing would have prevailed on the French to 
recall their fleet from the islands at the time they did, but the 
necessity of humoring Spain on the subject of her hobby-horse. 
I am glad to hear that Arnold has been at last fired at. It 
sounded a little unfavorably for us in the ears of people here 
that he was likely to get off without that proof of a hostile 
reception. If he ventures an irruption in any other quarter, I 
hope he will be made sensible that his impunity on James river 
was owing to the suddenness of his appearance, and not to the 
want of spirit in the people. 

I am, Dr sir, yours sincerely. 


PHILADELPHIA, Febry, 1781. 

DR Sm, I have your favor of the 5th instant by the post. 
Col. Harrison arrived here yesterday, and as he mentions no 
circumstance which indicated an intended departure of the ene 
my, I am afraid your intelligence on that subject was not well 
founded. Immediately on the receipt of your former letter, re 
lating to an exchange of C. Taylor, I applied to the Admiralty 
Department, and if such a step can be brought about with 
propriety, I hope he will be gratified; but considering the 
tenor of their treatment of naval prisoners, and the resolutions 
with which it has inspired Congress, I do not think it probable 
that exchanges will go on easily; and if this were less the case, 
a mere passenger, under the indulgence, too, of a parole, can 
scarcely hope to be preferred to such as are suffering the utmost 
hardships, and even made prisoners in public service. 

A vessel arrived here a few days ago from Cadiz, which 

1781. LETTERS. 43 

brings letters of as late date as the last of December. Those 
that are official tell us that England is making the most strenu 
ous exertions for the current year, and that she is likely to be 
but too successful in the great article of money. The Parlia 
ment have voted 32,000 seamen; and a considerable land rein 
forcement for their southern army in America is also said to be 
in preparation. 

Private letters by the same conveyance mention that the 
blockade of Gibraltar is going on with alacrity, and that the 
garrison is in such distress as flatters the hope of a speedy 

If Mr. Pendleton, your nephew, is still with you, be pleased 
to return him my compliments. 

With great respect, I am, Dr sir, your obedient servant. 


PHILADELPHIA, May 1, 1781. 

DEAR SIR, A letter which I received a few days ago from 
Mr. Jefferson gives me a hope that he will lend his succor in 
defending the title of Virginia. He professes ignorance of the 
ground on which the report of the committee places the contro 
versy. I have exhorted him not to drop his purpose, and 
referred him to you as a source of copious information on the 
subject. I wish much you and he could unite your ideas on it. 
Since you left us I have picked up several pamphlets which had 
escaped our researches. Among them are the examination of 
the Connecticut claim, and the charter of Georgia, bound up 
with that of Maryland and four others. Presuming that a 
better use will be made of them, I will send them by Mr. Jones, 
requesting, however, that they may be returned by the hands of 
him, Doctor Lee, or yourself, as the case may be. 



PHILADELPHIA, July 7, 1781. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I have received two copies of your favor 
of the 7th of December last, and three of that of the 30th of 
November preceding. Having neglected to bring with me from 
Virginia the cypher concerted between you and the Executive, 
I still remain ignorant of the paragraph in your last which I 
suppose the best worth knowing. 

The state of our affairs has undergone so many vicissitudes 
since you embarked for Europe, and I can so little judge how 
far you may have had intelligence of them, that I am at a loss 
where I ought to begin my narrative. As the present posture 
of them is the most interesting, I shall aim at nothing further 
at present than to give you some idea of that, referring to past 
events so far only as may be necessary to explain it. 

The insuperable difficulties which opposed a general conquest 
of America seemed as early as the year 1779 to have been felt 
by the enemy, and to have led them into the scheme of directing 
their operations and views against the Southern States only. 
Clinton accordingly removed with the principal part of his 
force from New York to South Carolina, and laid siege to 
Charleston, which, after an honorable resistance, was compelled 
to surrender to a superiority of force. Our loss in men, besides 
the inhabitants of the town, was not less than two thousand. 
Clinton returned to New York. Cornwallis was left witli 
about five thousand troops to pursue his conquests. General 
Gates was appointed to the command of the Southern depart 
ment, in place of Lincoln, who commanded in Charleston at the 
time of its capitulation. He met Cornwallis on the 16th of 
August, 1780, near Camden, in the upper part of South Caro 
lina and on the border of North Carolina. A general action 
ensued, in which the American troops were defeated with con 
siderable loss, though not without making the enemy pay a 
good price for their victory. Cornwallis continued his progress 
into North Carolina, but afterwards retreated to Camden. 
The defeat of Gates was followed by so general a clamor 

1781. LETTERS. 45 

against him, that it was judged expedient to recall him. Greene 
was sent to succeed in the command. About the time of his 
arrival at the army, Cornwallis, having been reinforced from 
New York, resumed his enterprise into North Carolina. A. 
detachment of his best troops was totally defeated by Morgan 
with an inferior number, and consisting of a major part of mil 
itia detached from Greene s army. Five hundred were made 
prisoners, between two and three hundred killed and wounded, 
and about the like number escaped. This disaster, instead of 
checking the ardor of Cornwallis, afforded a new incentive to a 
rapid advance, in the hope of recovering his prisoners. The 
vigilance and activity, however, of Morgan, secured them. 
Cornwallis continued his pursuit as far as the Dan river, which 
divides North Carolina from Virginia. Greene, whose inferior 
force obliged him to recede this far before the enemy, received 
such succors of militia on his entering Virginia that the chase 
was reversed. Cornwallis, in his turn, retreated precipitately. 
Greene overtook him on his way to Wilmington, and attacked 
him. Although the ground was lost on our side, the British 
army was so much weakened by the loss of five or six hundred 
of their best troops, that their retreat towards Wilmington 
suffered little interruption. Greene pursued as long as any 
chance of reaching his prey remained, and then, leaving Corn 
wallis on his left, took an oblique direction towards Camden, 
which, with all the other posts in South Carolina except 
Charleston and Ninety-Six, have, in consequence, fallen again 
into our possession. His army lay before the latter when we 
last heard from him. It contained seven or eight hundred men 
and large quantities of stores. It is nearly two hundred miles 
from Charleston, and, without some untoward accident, cannot 
fail of being taken. Greene has detachments all over South 
Carolina, some of them within a little distance of Charleston; 
and the resentments of the people against their late insolent 
masters ensure him all the aids they can give in re-establishing 
the American Government there. Great progress is also ma 
king in the redemption of Georgia. 

As soon as Cornwallis had refreshed his troops at Wilming- 

4(5 WORKS OF MADISON. 1781. 

ton, abandoning his Southern conquests to their fate, he pushed 
forward into Virginia. The parricide Arnold had a detach 
ment at Portsmouth when he lay on the Dan; Philips had rein 
forced him so powerfully from New York, that the junction of 
the two armies at Petersburg could not be prevented. The 
whole force amounted to about six thousand men. The force 
under the Marquis De La Fayette, who commanded in Virginia, 
being greatly inferior, did not oppose them, but retreated into 
Orange and Culpeper in order to meet General Wayne, who 
was on his way from Pennsylvania to join him. Cornwallis 
advanced northward as far as Chesterfield, in the county of 
Caroline, having parties at the same time at Page s warehouse 
and other places in its vicinity. A party of horse, commanded 
by Tarleton, was sent with all the secrecy and celerity possible 
to surprise and take the General Assembly and Executive who 
had retreated from Richmond to Charlottesville. The vigilance 
of a young gentleman who discovered the design and rode ex 
press to Charlottesville prevented a complete surprise. As it 
was, several Delegates were caught, and the rest were within 
an hour of sharing the same fate. Among the captives was 
Colonel Lyon of Hanover. Mr. Kinlock, a member of Con 
gress from South Carolina, was also caught at Mr. John 
Walker s, whose daughter he had married some time before. 
Governor Jefferson had a very narrow escape. The members 
of the Government rendezvoused at Stanton, where they soon 
made a House. Mr. Jefferson s year having expired, he declined 
a re-election, and General Nelson has taken his place. Tarle- 
ton s party retreated with as much celerity as it had advanced. 
On the junction of Wayne with the Marquis and the arrival of 
militia, the latter faced about and advanced rapidly on Corn 
wallis, who retreated to Richmond, and thence precipitately to 
Williamsburg, where he lay on the 27th ultimo. The Marquis 
pursued, and was at the same time within twenty miles of that 
place. One of his advanced parties had had a successful skir 
mish within six miles of Williamsburg. Bellini has, I under 
stand, abided patiently in the college the dangers and incon 
veniences of such a situation. I do not hear that the consequences 

1781. LETTERS. 47 

have condemned the experiment. Such is the present state of 
the war in the Southern Department. In the Northern, the 
operations have been for a considerable time in a manner sus 
pended. At present, a vigorous siege of New York by General 
Washington s army, aided by five or six thousand French troops 
under Count De Rochambeau, is in contemplation, and will soon 
commence. As the English have the command of the water, 
the result of such an enterprise must be very uncertain. It is 
supposed, however, that it will certainly oblige the enemy to 
withdraw their force from the Southern States, which may be a 
more convenient mode of relieving them than by marching the 
troops from New York at this season of the year to the south 
ward. On the whole, the probable conclusion of this campaign 
is, at this juncture, very flattering, the enemy being on the 
defensive in every quarter. 

The vicissitudes which our finances have undergone are as 
great as those of the war, the depreciation of the old conti 
nental bills having arrived at forty, fifty, and sixty for one. 
Congress, on the 18th of March, 1780, resolved to displace 
them entirely from circulation, and substitute another currency, 
to be issued on better funds, and redeemable at a shorter period. 
For this purpose, they fixed the relative value of paper and 
specie at forty for one; directed the States to sink by taxes the 
whole two hundred millions in one year, and to provide proper 
funds for sinking in six years a new currency which was not 
to exceed ten millions of dollars, which was redeemable within 
that period, and to bear an interest of five per cent., payable in 
bills of exchange on Europe or hard money. The loan-office 
certificates granted by Congress are to be discharged at the 
value of the money at the time of the loan; a scale of depre 
ciation being fixed by Congress for that purpose. This scheme 
has not yet been carried into full execution. The old bills are 
still unredeemed, in part, in some of the States, where they have 
depreciated to two, three, and four hundred for one. The new 
bills, which were to be issued only as the old ones were taken 
in, are consequently in a great degree still unissued; and the 
depreciation which they have already suffered has determined 


Congress and the States to issue as few more of them as possi 
ble. We seem to have pursued our paper projects as far as 
prudence will warrant. Our medium in future will be princi 
pally specie. The States are already levying taxes in it. As 
the paper disappears, the hard money comes forward into circu 
lation. This revolution will also be greatly facilitated by the 
influx of Spanish dollars from the Havannah, where the Spanish 
/orces employed against the Floridas * consume immense quan 
tities of our flour, and remit their dollars in payment. We 
also receive considerable assistance from the direct aids of our 
ally, and from the money expended among us by his auxiliary 
troops. These advantages, as they have been and are likely to 
be improved by the skill of Mr. Robert Morris, whom we have 
constituted minister of our finances, afford a more flattering 
prospect in this department of our affairs than has existed at 
any period of the war. 

The great advantage the enemy have over us lies in the 
superiority of their navy, which enables them continually to 
shift the war into defenceless places, and to weary out our 
troops by long marches. The squadron sent by our ally to our 
support did not arrive till a reinforcement on the part of the 
enemy had counteracted their views. They have been almost 
constantly blocked up at Rhode Island by the British fleet. 
The effects of a hurricane in the last spring on the latter gave 
a temporary advantage to the former, but circumstances delayed 
the improvement of it till the critical season was past. Mr. 
Destouches, who commanded the French fleet, nevertheless 
hazarded an expedition into Chesapeake bay. The object of it 
was to co-operate with the Marquis de la Fayette in an attack 
against Arnold, who lay at Portsmouth with about fifteen hun 
dred British troops. Had he got into the bay, and taken a 
favorable station, the event would certainly have been adequate 
to our hopes. Unfortunately, the British fleet, which followed 
the French immediately from Rhode Island, reached the capes 
of Virginia first. On the arrival of the latter, a regular and 

* They have lately taken West Florida with a garrison of 1,500 troops. 

1781. LETTERS. 49 

fair combat took place. It lasted for several hours, and ended 
rather in favor of our allies. As the enemy, however, were 
nearest the capes, and one of the French ships had lost hei 
rudder, and was otherwise much damaged, the commander 
thought it best to relinquish his object, and return to his former 
station. The damage sustained by the enemy, according to 
their own representation, exceeded that of the French; and as 
their number of ships and weight of metal were both superior, 
it does great honor to the gallantry and good conduct of Mr. 
Destouches. Congress, and indeed the public at large, were so 
sensible of this, that their particular thanks were given him on 
the occasion. 

No description can give you an adequate idea of the barbarity 
with which the enemy have conducted the war in the Southern 
States. Every outrage which humanity could suffer has been 
committed by them. Desolation rather than conquest seems to 
have been their object. They have acted more like desperate 
bands of robbers or buccaneers than like a nation making war 
for dominion. Negroes, horses, tobacco, <fcc., not the standards 
and arms of their antagonists, are the trophies which display 
their success. Eapes, murders, and the whole catalogue of 
individual cruelties, not protection and the distribution of 
justice, are the acts which characterize the sphere of their 
usurped jurisdiction. The advantage we derive from such pro 
ceedings would, if it were purchased on other terms than the 
distresses of our citizens, fully compensate for the injury accru 
ing to the public. They are a daily lesson to the people of the 
United States of the necessity of perseverance in the contest; 
and wherever the pressure of their local tyranny is removed, 
the subjects of it rise up as one man to avenge their wrongs 
and prevent a repetition of them. Those who have possessed 
a latent partiality for them, as their resentment is embittered 
by their disappointment, generally feel most sensibly their 
injuries and insults, and are the foremost in retaliating them. 
It is much to be regretted that these things are so little known 
in Europe. Were they published to the world in their true 
colors, the British nation would be hated by all nations as much 

VOL. i. 4 


as they have heretofore been feared by any, and all nations 
would be sensible of the policy of abridging a power which 
nothing else can prevent the abuse of. 


PHILADELPHIA, August 1, 1781. 

We have heard little of late from Europe, except that the 
mediation proffered by Russia in the dispute between England 
and Holland has been referred by the former to the general 
pacification, in which the mediation of the Emperor will be 
joined with that of Russia. As this step is not very respectful 
to Russia, it can only proceed from a distrust of her friendship, 
and the hopes entertained by Britain as to the issue of the cam 
paign, which, as you will see in an intercepted letter from Ger- 
maine to Clinton, were extravagantly sanguine. We have no 
late intelligence from the West Indies. General Washington 
is going on with his preparations and operations against New 
York. What the result will be can be decided by time alone. 
We hope they will at least withdraw some of the invaders from 
Virginia. The French fleet is still at Rhode Island. The 
British, it is reported, has lately left the Hook. 

August 2. Information has been received from New York, 
through a channel which is thought a good one, that orders are 
gone to Virginia for a large part of the troops under Corn- 
wallis immediately to sail for that place. Should this be well 
founded, the execution of the orders will announce it to you. 
Among other advantages attending an evacuation of Virginia, 
it will not be the least that the communication with this place 
by the bay will supply the State with many necessary articles 
which are now transported by land at so much expense, and 
will enable you to pay for them easier by raising the price of 
your commodities. It gives me pain to hear that so many of 
the people have incautiously sold, or rather given away, their 
tobacco to speculators, when it was in no danger from the 
enemy. The destruction of that article, which alarmed them, 

1781. LETTERS. 51 

was an obvious cause of its future rise, and a reason for their 
retaining it till the alarm should be over. Goods of all kinds, 
particularly dry goods, are rising here already. Salt, in par 
ticular, has risen within a few days from two dollars to a guinea 
per bushel. 


PHILA, September 18, 1781. 

DEAR Sm, I was yesterday favored with yours of the 10th 
instant. The various reports arrived of late from the Chesa 
peake prepared us for a confirmation from our correspondents 
of a fortunate rencontre between the two fleets. A continua 
tion of these reports, although unsupported by any authentic 
evidence, still keeps up the public anxiety. We have not heard 
a word of De Banes. The arrival of Digby is far from being 
certain, and the circulating reports have reduced his force to 
six ships of the line. The preparations at New York for some 
movement are pretty well attested. The conjectures of many 
are directing it against this city, as the most practicable and 
important object within the reach of Clinton. The successful 
blow struck by the parricide Arnold against the town of New 
London is described, as far as the particulars are known here, 
in the enclosed Gazette. There have been several arrivals of 
late from Europe with very little intelligence of any kind, and 
with none from official sources. It all relates to the junction 
of the French and Spanish fleets, for the purpose of renewing 
the investiture of Gibraltar, and enterprising something against 
Minorca. Thus the selfish projects of Spain not only withhold 
from us the co-operation of their armaments, but divert in part 
that of our allies; and yet we are to reward her with a cession 
of what constitutes the value of the finest part of America. 

General Washington and the Count de Rochambeau, with 
the forces under them, have, I presume, by this time, got within 
Virginia. This revolution in our military plan cannot fail to 
produce great advantages to the Southern department, and par- 


ticularly to Virginia, even if the immediate object of it should 
be unexpectedly frustrated. The presence of the Commander- 
in-chief, with the proportion of our force which will always 
attend him, will better protect the country against the depreda 
tions of the enemy, although he should be followed by troops 
from New York which would otherwise remain there, than it 
has hitherto been; will leave the militia more at leisure to pur 
sue their occupations, at the same time that the demands of the 
armies will afford a sure market for the surplus provisions of 
the country; will diffuse among them a share of the gold and 
silver of our ally, and, I may now say, of our own, of which 
their Northern brethren have hitherto had a monopoly, which 
will be peculiarly grateful to them after having been so long 
gorged with depreciating paper; and as we may suppose that 
the ships of our ally allotted for our service will, so long as his 
troops remain in the United States, be kept in the Chesapeake, 
it will revive the trade through that channel, reduce the price 
of imported necessaries, and raise the staple of the country once 
more to its proper value. 

I am, Dr Sir, your sincere friend, and obt servt. 


PHILA, October 2, 1781. 

DEAE SIR, Yours of 24th ultimo came safe by yesterday s 
post. In addition to the paper of this day, I enclose you two 
of the preceding week, in one of which you will find a very 
entertaining and interesting speech of Mr. Fox, and in the other, 
a handsome forensic discussion of a case important in itself, 
and which has some relation to the State of Virginia. 

Our intelligence from N. York through several channels con 
firms the sufferings of the British fleet from their rash visit to 
the capes of the Chesapeake. The troops which were kept in 
transports to await that event have, since the return of the 
fleet, been put on shore on Staten Island. This circumstance 

1781. LETTERS. 53 

has been construed into a preliminary to an expedition to this 
city, which had revived, till within a few days, the preparations 
for a militia opposition, but is better explained by the raging 
of a malignant fever in the city of N. York. Digby, we hear, 
is now certainly arrived, but with three ships of the line only. 
It is given out that three men with a large number of transports 
came with him, and that they only lay back till it was known 
whether they could proceed to N. Y. with safety. This is not 
improbably suspected to be a trick to palliate the disappoint 
ment and to buoy up the sinking hopes of their adherents, the 
most staunch of whom give up Lord Cornwallis as irretrieva 
bly lost. 

We have received some communications from Europe relative 
to the general state of its affairs. They all centre in three 
important points. The first is the obstinacy of Great Britain; 
the second, the fidelity of our ally; and the third, the absolute 
necessity of vigorous and systematic preparations for war on 
our part, in order to insure a speedy, as well as favorable 
peace. The wisdom of the Legislature of Virginia will, I flatter 
myself, not only prevent an illusion from the present brilliant 
prospects, but take advantage of the military ardor and san 
guine hopes of the people to recruit their line for the war. The 
introduction of specie will also, I hope, be made subservient to 
some salutary operations in their finances. Another great 
object, which, in my opinion, claims an immediate attention 
from them, is some liberal provision for extending the benefits 
of government to the distant parts of the State. I am not able 
to see why this cannot be done so as fully to satisfy the exigen 
cies of the people, and at the same time preserve the idea of 
unity in the State. Any plan which divides in any manner the 
sovereignty may be dangerous, and precipitate an evil which 
ought, and may at least, be long procrastinated. The adminis 
tration of justice, which is the capital branch, may certainly be 
diffused sufficiently, and kept in due subordination in every part 
to one supreme tribunal. Separate boards for crediting [audit 
ing?] accounts may also be admitted with safety and propriety. 
The same as to a separate depository for the taxes, &c., and as 


to a land office. The military powers of the Executive may well 
be intrusted to militia officers of rank, as far as the defence of 
the country and the custody of military stores make it neces 
sary. A complete organization of the militia, in which general 
officers would be erected, would greatly facilitate this part of the 
plan. Such an one, with a council of field officers, might exer 
cise, without encroaching on the constitutional powers of the 
supreme Executive, all the powers over the militia which any 
emergency could demand. 

I am, Dr Sir, yours sincerely. 


PHILA ? Oct. 9. 1781. 

DEAR SIR, Having sent you the arguments on one side of 
the judiciary question relating to the property of Virginia 
seized by Mr. Nathan, it is but reasonable that you should see 
what was contended on the other side. With this view, although 
I in some measure usurp the task of Mr. Jones, I enclose the 
paper of Wednesday last. As it may escape Mr. Jones, I also 
enclose a copy of Mr. Adams s memorial to the States general. 
I wish I could have informed you of its being lodged in the 
archives of their High Mightinesses instead of presenting it to 
you in print. 

I am, Dr Sir, ys affectionately. 

(In answer to Mr. P s, Sth Oct.) 

PHILA, Oct. 16th f 1781. 

DEAR SIR, When you get a sight of the resolution of the 
General Assembly, referred to in your favor of the 8th, you 
will readily judge from the tenor of it what steps would be 
taken by the Delegates. It necessarily submitted the fate of 

1781. LETTERS. 55 

the object in question to the discretion and prospects of the 
gentleman whom reports, it seems, have arraigned to you, but 
who, I am bound in justice to testify, has entirely supported the 
character which he formerly held with you.* I am somewhat 
surprised that you never had before known of the Resolution 
just mentioned, especially as, what is indeed much more sur 
prising, it was both debated and passed with open doors and a 
full gallery. This circumstance alone must have defeated any 
reservations attached to it. 

The N. York papers and the intelligence from thence make it 
evident that they have no hope of relieving Cornwallis, unless 
it can be effected by some desperate naval experiment, and that 
such an one will be made. Their force will probably amount 
to twenty-six sail of the line, and if we are not misinformed as 
to the late arrival of three ships of the line, to twenty-nine sail. 
The superiority still remaining on the part of our allies, and the 
repeated proofs given of their skill and bravery on the water, 
forbid any apprehension of danger. At the same time, we can 
not help calculating that every addition to the British force 
proportionally diminishes the certainty of success. A fleet of 

provisions amounting to about sail, convoyed by a 

forty-four and two frigates, have arrived at N. Y. within the 
week past. 

Having sent all the papers containing the proceedings on the 
case of Mr. N. against Virga, as they came out, I shall, to com 
plete your view of it, add the last effort in his favor published 
in the enclosed No. of the Freeman s Journal. I am told, how 
ever, that the publisher ought to have subjoined that the Privy 
Council interposed, and directed restitution of the King of 
Spain s effects. 

I am, Dr Sir, yrs affly. 

* Mr. Jay, Minister to Spain. 



PHILA, Nov. 27th, 1781. 

DEAR SIR, Your favor of the 19th inst. came to hand yes 
terday. On the same evening arrived our illustrious general, 
returning to his position on the North river. We shall prob 
ably, however, have his company here for some days at least, 
where he will be able to give Congress very seasonable aid in 
settling the military establishment for the next year, about 
which there is some diversity of opinion. Whatever the total 
requisition of men may be on the States, I cannot but wish that 
Virginia may take effectual measures for bringing into the field 
her proportion of men. One reason for this wish is the calum 
nies which her enemies ground on her present deficiency ; but 
the principal one is the influence that such an exertion may 
have in preventing insults and aggressions, from whatever 
quarter they may be meditated, by shewing that we are able to 
defy them. 

The Delegates have lately transmitted to the Governor, for 
the Assembly, all the proceedings which have taken place on 
the subject of the Territorial cessions. The tenor of them, and 
the reception given them by the Assembly, will, I doubt not, be 
communicated to you by some of your correspondents in it. 

There is pretty good reason to believe that a descent on 
Minorca has actually taken place. It is a little problematical 
with me whether successes against Great Britain in any other 
(juarter except America tend much to hasten a peace. If they 
increase her general distress, they at the same time increase 
those demands against her which are likely to impede negotia 
tions, and her hopes from the sympathy of other powers. They 
are favorable to us, however, in making it more the interest of 
all the belligerent powers to reject the uti possidetis as the 
basis of a pacification. 

The report of Rodney s capture never deserved the attention, 
it seems, which was given to it. 

I am, Dr Sir, yrs sincerely. 

1781. LETTEES. 57 


PHIL., Dec. llth, 1781. 

DR SIR, I am favored with yours of the 3d instant. Other 
letters by the same conveyance confirm your report of the elec 
tion of Mr. Harrison to the chief magistracy. Several other 
appointments are mentioned which I make no doubt are all 
well known to you. 

On whichever side Mr. Deane s letters are viewed, they pre 
sent mysteries. Whether they be supposed genuine or spurious, 
or a mixture of both, difficulties which cannot well be answered 
may be started. There are, however, passages in some of them 
which can scarcely be imputed to any other hand. But it is 
unnecessary to rely on these publications for the real character 
of the man. There is evidence of his obliquity which has for a 
considerable time been conclusive. 

Congress have not resumed their proceedings on the Western 
business. They have agreed on a requisition on the States for 
8,000,000 of dollars, and a completion of their lines according 
to the last establishment of the army. We endeavored, though 
with very little effect, to obtain deductions in the first article 
from the quota of Virginia, but we did not oppose the aggregate 
of the demand in either. If we do not obtain a sufficiency of 
men and money from the States by regular and duly-appointed 
calls, we know by experience that the burden of the war will 
fall on the resources of the States which happen to be the sub 
ject of it. 

Mr. Moore, late Vice President, has been elected President of 
this State in place of Mr. Reed, whose period of eligibility was 

I am, dr sir, yours. 



PHILA, Dec. 25th, 1781. 

DEAR SIR, You only do me justice in ascribing your dis 
appointment in the part of the week preceding your favor of 
the 16th instant to some other cause than my neglect. If I 
were less disposed to punctuality, your example would preserve 
me from transgressing it. As the last letter went to the post- 
office here, and you did not receive it from the post in Virginia, 
the delinquency must have happened in that line. It is, how 
ever, I believe, of little consequence, as I do not recollect that 
anything material has been contained in my letters for several 
weeks, any more than there will be in this, in which I have 
little else to say than to tender you the compliments of the day. 
Perhaps, indeed, it will be new to you what appeared here in a 
paper several days ago, that the success of Commodore John- 
stone in taking five Dutch East Indiamen, homeward bound, 
and destroying a sixth, is confirmed. Whatever may be thought 
of this stroke of fortune by him and his rapacious crew, the 
Ministry will hardly think it a compensation to the public for 
the danger to which the remains of their possessions in the East 
will be exposed by the failure of his expedition. 

It gives me great pleasure to hear of the honorable acquittal 
of Mr. Jefferson. I know his abilities, and I think I know his 
fidelity and zeal for his country so well, that I am persuaded it 
was a just one. We are impatient to know whether he will 
undertake the new service to which he is called. 
I am, D r Sir, yrs affectionately. 


Feb. 12th, 1782. 

The disappointment in forwarding the money by Mr. Brown- 
low has been sorely felt by me, and the more so as the Legisla- 

1782. LETTERS. 59 

ture has made no provision for the subsistence of the Delegates 
that can be relied on. I hope some opportunity will soon put it 
in your power to renew the attempt to transmit it, and that the 
delay will have made considerable addition to it. Besides the 
necessity of this supply for the common occasions, I have fre 
quent opportunities here of purchasing many scarce and neces 
sary books at a fourth of the price which, if to be had at all, 
they will hereafter cost me. If an immediate conveyance does 
not present itself for the cash, I would recommend that a bill 
of exchange on some merchant here be got of Mr. Hunter, Mr. 
Maury, or other respectable merchant, and forwarded by the 
post. This is a safer method than the first, and I make no 
doubt is very practicable. I wish, at all events, the trial to be 
made, and that speedily. 

I recollect nothing new which is not contained in some of the 
late papers. 

Present my affectionate regards to all the family. I have not 
time to add more than that I am, 
Your dutiful son. 


PHILADELPHIA, March 30th. 1782. 

HON D SIR, The newspapers will give you in general the in 
telligence we have from Europe. As far as we are enabled to 
judge of the views of the British Cabinet, the misfortunes of 
one more campaign, at least, will be necessary to conquer their 
obstinacy. They are attempting a separate peace with the 
Dutch, and talk of suspending their offensive war against us, 
and directing their whole resources against the naval power of 
France and Spain. If this be their real plan, we may be sure 
they do mean by it not to abandon their pretensions to the 
United States, but try another mode for recovering them. Dur 
ing their offensive exertions against our Ally, they can be prac 
ticing insidious ones against us; and if in the first they should 


be successful, and in the latter disappointed, a renewal of a 
vigorous war upon us will certainly take place. The best 
security against every artifice and every event will be such 
military preparations on our part as will be sufficient either to 
resist or expel them, as the case may require. 


PHILADELPHIA, May 20th, 1782. 

HON D SIR, Having written a letter and enclosed it with 
a large collection of newspapers for you, which was to have 
been carried by Mr. J. Smith, but which I have now put into 
the hands of Captain Walker, whose return will be quicker, 
little remains for me to add here. 

Our anxiety on account of the West India news, published at 
New York, is still supported by contradictory reports and con 
jectures. The account, however, to which Rodney s name is 
prefixed, renders our apprehensions too strong for our hopes. 
Rivington has been very bold in several of his spurious publica 
tions, and at this conjuncture might venture as far to serve a 
particular turn as at any. But it is scarcely credible that he 
would dare or be permitted to sport with so high an official 

If Mr. Jefferson will be so obliging as to superintend the 
legal studies of William, I think he cannot do better than pro 
secute the plan he has adopted. The interruption occasioned 
by the election* of Mr. J., although inconvenient in that respect, 
is by no means a decisive objection against it. 

I did not know before that the letters which Mr. Walker was 
to have carried last fall had met with the fate which it seems 
they did. I shall be more cautious hereafter. The papers 
missing in your list were, I presume, for I do not recollect, con 
tained in them. 

If Continental money passes here at all, it is in a very small 

* Mr. Jefferson had just been elected to the Legislature of the State from the 
county of Albemarle. 

1783. LETTERS. Q\ 

quantity, at very great discount, and merely to serve particular 
local and temporary ends. 

It lias at no time been more difficult for me to fix my probable 
return to Virginia. At present all my colleagues have left 
Congress except Colonel Bland, and it is a crisis which calls 
for a full representation from every State. Anxious as I am to 
visit my friends, as long as I sustain a public trust I shall feel a 
principle which is superior to it. 


Jan. 1st, 1783. 

Hox D Sm * * * * * * 
The negotiations for peace are said to be going on under the 
late commission to Mr. Oswald, which authorizes him to treat 
with commissioners from the thirteen United States. Mr. Jeffer 
son will depart in a little time, in order to give his aid in case 
it be in season. The insidiousness and instability of the British 
Cabinet forbid us to be sanguine, especially as the relief of 
Gibraltar was posterior to Oswald s commission, and the in 
terests to be adjusted among the belligerent parties are ex 
tremely complicated. 

I am, with great affection, your dutiful son. 


PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 12th, 1783. 
HON Sm * * * * * * 

I readily suppose, from the reports prevalent here, that some 
information on the subject of peace will be expected, and I wish 
it were in my power to gratify you. The truth is, we are in 
nearly as great uncertainty here as you can be. Every day, 
almost, brings forth some fresh rumor, but it is so mingled with 
mercantile speculations that little faith is excited. The most 
favorable evidence on the side of peace seems to be a material 


fall in the price of imported goods; which, considering the 
sagacity and good intelligence of merchants, is a circumstance 
by no means to be despised. A little time will probably decide 
in the case, when I shall follow this with something more satis 

In the mean time, I remain your affectionate son. 


PHILADELPHIA, Feb. llth, 1783. 

DEAR SIR, Your favor of the 31st of January was safely 
brought by Mr. Thompson. That of the 7th instant came by 
yesterday s mail. The anecdote related in the first was new to 
me,* and if there were no other key, would sufficiently decipher 
the implacability of the party triumphed over. In answer to 
the second, I can only say at this time, that I feel deeply for 
your situation,t that I approve of the choice you have made 
among its difficulties, and that every aid which can depend on 
me shall be exerted to relieve you from them. Before I can 
take any step with propriety, however, it will be expedient to 
feel the sentiments of Congress, and to advise with some of my 
friends. The first point may possibly be brought about by your 
letter to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, which I suppose came 
too late yesterday to be laid before Congress, but which will, 
no doubt, be handed in this morning. 

The time of Congress since you left us has been almost exclu 
sively spent on projects for a valuation of the land, as the 
federal articles require, and yet I do not find that we have got 
an inch forward towards the object. The mode of referring 
the task to the States, which had at first the warmest and most 
numerous support, seems to be in a manner abandoned, and 

* The anecdote referred to an occurrence between Dr. Franklin and Arthur 

f Untoward detention at Annapolis, whither Mr. Jefferson had gone to embark 
for Europe as one of the commissioners to treat of peace. 

1783. LETTERS. 63 

nothing determinate is yet offered on the mode of effecting it 
without their intervention. The greatest misfortune, perhaps, 
attending the case is, that a plan of some kind is made an indis 
pensable preliminary to any other essay for the public relief. I 
much question whether a sufficient number of States will be 
found in favor of any plan that can be devised, as I am sure 
that in the present temper of Congress a sufficient number 
cannot, who will agree to toll their constituents that the law 
of the Confederation cannot be executed, and to propose an 
amendment of it. 

Congress yesterday received from Mr. Adams several letters 
dated September, not remarkable for anything unless it be a 
fresh display of his vanity, and prejudice against the French 
court, and his venom against Doct. Franklin. Other prepara 
tions for the post do not allow me to use more cypher at present. 

I have a letter from Randolph dated February 1, confirming 
the death of his aunt. You are acquainted, no doubt, with the 
course the estate is to take. He seems disposed, in case he can 
make a tolerable compromise with his father s creditors, to 
resign his appointment under the State, and go into the Legis 
lature. His zeal for some Continental arrangement as essential 
for the public honor and safety forms at least one of his 
motives, and I have added all the fuel to it in my power. 

My neglect to write to you heretofore has proceeded from a 
hope that a letter would not find you at Baltimore, and no sub 
ject has occurred for one of sufficient importance to follow you. 
You shall henceforward hear from me as often as an occasion 
presents, until your departure forbids it. 

The ladies and gentlemen to whom I communicated your 
respects return them with equal sincerity, and the former, as 
well as myself, very affectionately include Miss Patsy in the 
object of them. 

I am, dear sir, your sincere friend. 



PHILADELPHIA, April 29th, 1783. 

SIR, I have been honored with your Excellency s favor of 
the 22d instant, bearing testimony to the merits and talents of 
Mr. McHenry. The character which I had preconceived of this 
gentleman was precisely that which your representation has 
confirmed. As Congress have not yet fixed the peace establish 
ment for their foreign affairs, and will not probably fill up 
vacancies, unless there be some critical urgency, until such an 
establishment be made, it is uncertain when an opportunity will 
present itself of taking into consideration the wishes and merits 
of Mr. McHenry. Should my stay here be protracted till that 
happens, which I do not at present expect, I shall feel an addi 
tional pleasure in promoting the public interest from my knowl 
edge that I at the same time fulfil both your Excellency s 
public judgment and private inclination. 


PHTLA., May 27, 1783. 
HON D SIR * * * * * 

I have hitherto not been inattentive to the request of Mrs. 
J., and shall, in consequence of your letter, renew my efforts 
for the books, which the return of peace renders more likely to 
be attainable for her. I see few books in the catalogue which 
you have sent which are worth purchasing, but I will peruse it 
more carefully, and send you the titles of such as I may select. 

I received a letter from Mr. Joseph Chew a few days ago, by 
which, and the information of Colonel Wadsworth, who brought 
it and is a friend of his, I find that he is in New York with his 
family; that they are all well ; that he continues as yet to hold 
a post which supports them comfortably; that although he has 
enjoyed opportunities of honestly laying up profits, his gene 
rosity of temper has prevented it. I cannot learn whether he 
proposes to remain in this country or not, but am inclined to 

1783. LETTERS. Co 

think he will go to Canada, where he has some little expecta 
tions. He seems to be exceedingly anxious to hear of his 
friends in Virginia, and I have written as fully to him on the 
subject as my knowledge would admit. I wish some of his 
friends on the spot, and particularly yourself, would write to 
him. Besides the information he would receive, it would be a 
pleasing proof to him that he still retained a place in their 
remembrance and regards. 

We are without information of late as to the progress of the 
definitive treaty, and of the bill in the British Parliament for 
opening trade with the United States. The confusions pro 
duced in their counsels by the long suspension of the Ministry 
seem to put everything to a stand. The paper which I enclose 
will give you the latest information on that subject. 
Y r dutiful son. 


PIHLA., June 5, 1783. 

HON D SIB, By the post preceding the last, I answered yours 
of the 16th, addressing it to the care of Mr. Maury. I was 
prevented by more necessary writing from enclosing the pa 
pers again by the last post, as I had intended. I now supply 
the omission by two gentlemen going to Fredericksburg. All 
the news we have received is contained in them, and respects 
solely the arrangement which is at length made of a British 

Having sent several copies of the pamphlet of Congress on 
the subject of revenue, &c., which I suppose will be transcribed 
in the Virginia gazettes, I shall add nothing on that subject, 
presuming that you will, through some channel or other, obtain 
a sight of these proceedings. I enclose a memorandum of the 
books which I wish you to select from Dr. Hamilton s catalogue. 

I shall take care not to disappoint you of the chair which I 
promised to bring with me. The time of my setting out is as 

VOL. i. 5 


uncertain as at the date of my last ; but it will certainly take 
place before the Fall. 

Remember me affly to my mother and all the family, and be 
assured that I am, your dutiful son. 


ORANGE, March 10th. 1784. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Your favor of the 27th January was 
safely delivered to me about a fortnight ago, and was received 
with the greater pleasure, as it promises a continuance of your 
friendly attention. I am sorry that my situation enables me to 
stipulate no other return than sincere and thankful acknowl 

On my arrival here, which happened early in December, I 
entered, as soon as the necessary attentions to my friends 
admitted, on the course of reading which I have long meditated. 
Coke Littleton, in consequence, and a few others from the same 
shelf, have been my chief society during the winter. My pro 
gress, which in so short a period could not have been great 
under the most favorable circumstances, has been much retarded 
by the want of some important books, and still more by that of 
some living oracle for occasional consultation. But what will 
be most noxious to my project, I am to incur the interruptions 
which will result from attendance in the Legislature, if the 
suffrage of my county should destine me for that service, which 
I am made to expect will be the case. Among the circum 
stances which reconcile me to this destination, you need not bo 
assured that the opportunity of being in your neighborhood has 
its full influence. 

I have perused, with both pleasure and edification, your ob 
servations on the demand made by the Executive of South Caro 
lina of a citizen of this State. If I were to hazard an opinion 
after yours, it would be that the respect due to the chief magis 
tracy of a Confederate State, enforced as it is by the Articles of 

1784. LETTERS. 67 

Union, requires an admission of the fact as it lias been repre 
sented. If the representation be judged incomplete or ambig 
uous, explanations may certainly be called for; and if, on a 
final view of the charge, Virginia should hold it to be not a 
casus fcede-ris, she will be at liberty to withhold her citizen, (at 
least upon that ground,) as South Carolina will be to appeal to 
the tribunal provided for all controversies among the States. 
Should the law of South Carolina happen to vary from the 
British law, the most difficult point of discussion, I apprehend, 
will be, whether the terms " treason/ &c., are to be referred to 
those determinate offences so denominated in the latter code, or 
to all those to which the policy of the several States may annex 
the same titles and penalties. Much may be urged, I think, 
both in favor of and against each of these expositions. The 
two first of those terms, coupled with " breach of the peace," 
are used in the 5th article of the Confederation, but in a way 
that does not clear the ambiguity. The truth, perhaps, in this 
as in many other instances, is, that if the compilers of the text 
had severally declared their meanings, these would have been 
as diverse as the comments which will be made upon it. 

Waiving the doctrine of the Confederation, my present view 
of the subject would admit few exceptions to the propriety 
of surrendering fugitive offenders. My reasons are these: 1. 
By the express terms of the Union, the citizens of every State 
are naturalized within all the others, and being entitled to the 
same privileges, may with the more justice be subjected to the 
same penalties. This circumstance materially distinguishes the 
citizens of the United States from the subjects of other nations 
not so incorporated. 2. The analogy of the laws throughout 
the States, and particularly the uniformity of trial by juries of 
the vicinage, seem to obviate the capital objections against 
removal to the State where the offence is charged. In the 
instance of continuous States, a removal of the party accused 
from one to the other must often be a less grievance than what 
happens within the same State when the place of residence and 
the place where the offence is laid are at distant extremities. 
The transportation to Great Britain seems to have been repro- 


bated on very different grounds ; it would have deprived the 
accused of the privilege of trial by jury of the vicinage, as well 
as of the use of his witnesses, and have exposed him to trial in 
a place where he was not even alledged to have ever made him 
self obnoxious to it ; not to mention the danger of unfairness 
arising from the circumstances which produced the regulation. 
3. Unless citizens of one State transgressing within the pale 
of another be given up to be punished by the latter, they cannot 
be punished at all; and it seems to be a common interest of the 
States that a few hours, or at most a few days, should not be 
sufficient to gain a sanctuary for the authors of the numerous 
offences below "high misdemesnors." In a word, experience 
will shew, if I mistake not, that the relative situation of the 
United States calls for a "Droit Public" much more minute than 
that comprised in the federal articles, and which presupposes 
much greater mutual confidence and amity among the societies 
which are to obey it, than the law which has grown out of the 
transactions and intercourse of jealous and hostile nations. 

Present my respectful compliments to your amiable lady, and 
accept the sincerest wishes for your joint happiness of 
Your affec 6 friend and obt servt. 

P. S. By my Brother who is charged with this, I send Chas- 
tellux s work, De la Felicite Publique, which you may perhaps 
find leisure to run through before May; also a notable work of 
one of the Representatives of the U. S. in Europe. 


ORANGE, March 16th, 1784. 

DEAR SIR, Your favor of the 20th ult. came duly to hand a 
few days ago. 

I cannot apprehend that any difficulties can ensue in Europe 
from the involuntary and immaterial delay of the ratification 
of the peace, or if there should, that any imputations can be de- 


vised which will not be repelled by the collective force of the 
reasons in the intended protest, some of which, singly taken, are 
unanswerable. As you no doubt had recourse to authorities 
which I have no opportunity of consulting, I probably err in 
supposing the right of the Sovereign to reject the act of his 
plenipotentiary to be more circumscribed than you lay it down. 
I recollect well that an implied condition is annexed by the 
usage of nations to a Plenipotentiary Commission, but should 
not have extended the implication beyond cases where some 
palpable and material default in the Minister could be alledged 
by the Sovereign. Waiving some such plea, the language both 
of the Commission and of reason seems to fix on the latter as 
clear an engagement to fulfil his promise to ratify a treaty, as 
to fulfil the promises of a treaty which he has ratified. In both 
cases, one would pronounce the obligation equally personal to 
the Sovereign, and a failure on his part, without some absolving 
circumstance, equally a breach of faith. 

The project of affixing the seal of the United States, by seven 
States, to an act u hick had been just admitted to require nine, 
must have stood self-condemned; and though it might have pro 
duced a temporary deception abroad, must have been imme 
diately detected at home, and have finally dishonored the 
federal counsels everywhere. The competency of seven States 
to a Treaty of Peace has often been a subject of debate in Con 
gress, and has sometimes been admitted into their practice, at 
least so far as to issue fresh instructions. The reasoning em 
ployed in defence of the doctrine has been, " that the cases which 
require nine States, being exceptions to the general authority 
of seven States, ought to be taken strictly; that in the enumera 
tion of the powers of Congress in the first clause of article 9 
of the Confederation, the power of entering into treaties and 
alliances is contradistinguished from that of determining on 
peace and war, and even separated by the intervening power of 
sending and receiving ambassadors ; that the excepting clause, 
therefore, in which Treaties and alliances ought to be taken 
in the same confined sense, and in which the power of deter 
mining on peace is omitted, cannot be extended by construction 


to the latter power; that under such a construction five States 
might continue a war which it required nine to commence, 
though where the object of the war has been obtained, a con 
tinuance must in every view be equivalent to a commencement 
of it, and that the very means provided for preserving a state 
of peace might thus become the means of preventing its restora 

The answer to these arguments has been, that the construction 
of the federal articles which they maintain is a nicety which 
reason disclaims, and that if it be dangerous on one side to 
leave it in the breast of five States to protract a war, it is 
equally necessary on the other to restrain seven States from 
saddling the Union with any stipulations which they may please 
to interweave with a Treaty of peace. I was once led by this 
question to search the files of Congress for such lights as the 
history of the Confederation might furnish, and on a review 
now of my papers, I find the evidence from that source to consist 
of the following circumstances: In Doctor Franklin s "Sketch 
of Articles of Confederation," laid before Congress on the 21st 
day of July, 1775, no number beyond a majority is required in 
any cases. In the plan reported to Congress by the Committee 
appointed llth June, 1776, the general enumeration of the 
powers of Congress in article 18 is expressed in a similar man 
ner with the first clause in the present 9th article, as are the 
exceptions in a subsequent clause of the 18th article of the 
report, with the excepting clause as it now stands ; and yet in 
the margin of the Report, and I believe in the same handwriting, 
there is a " Qu. : If so large a majority is necessary in conclu 
ding a Treaty of peace. 7 There are sundry other marginal 
queries in the report from the same pen. 

Hence it would seem that, notwithstanding the preceding dis 
crimination between the powers of " determining on peace" and 
"entering into Treaties," the latter was meant by the Committee 
to comprise the former. The next form in which the articles 
appear is a printed copy of the Report as it had been previously 
amended, with sundry amendments, erasures, and notes, on the 
printed copy itself, in the hand of Mr. Thomson. In the printed 

1784. LETTERS. 71 

text of this paper, Art, 14, the phraseology which defines the 
general powers of Congress is the same with that in Art. 18 
of the manuscript report. In the subsequent clause requiring 
nine States, the text as printed ran thus: " The United States 
in Congress assembled shall never engage in a war, nor grant 
letters of marque and reprisal in time of peace, nor enter into 
any Treaties or alliances except for peace," the words except 
for peace being erased, but sufficiently legible through the 
erasure. The fair inference from this passage seems to be : 1. 
That without those words nine States were held to be required 
for concluding peace. 2. That an attempt had been made to 
render seven States competent to such an act, which attempt 
must have succeeded, either on a preceding discussion in Con 
gress, or in a Committee of the whole, or a special committee. 
3. That on fuller deliberation, the power of making Treaties of 
peace was meant to be left on the same footing with that of 
making all other Treaties. The remaining papers on the files 
have no reference to this question. 

Another question which several times during my service in 
Congress exercised their deliberations was, whether seven States 
could revoke a Commission for a Treaty issued by nine States, 
at any time before the faith of the Confederacy should be 
pledged under it. In the instance of a proposition in 1781 to 
revoke a Commission which had been granted under peculiar 
circumstances in 1779 to Adams, to form a treaty of commerce 
with Great Britain, the competency of seven States was resolved 
on, (by seven States indeed,) and a revocation took place ac 
cordingly. It was, however, effected with much difficulty, and 
some members of the minority even contested the validity of 
the proceeding. My own opinion then was, and still is, that 
the proceeding was equally valid and expedient. The circum 
stances which had given birth to the commission had given 
place to others totally different; not a single step had been 
taken under the commission which could affect the honor or 
faith of the United States, and it surely can never be said that 
either the letter or spirit of the Confederation requires the 
same majority to decline as to engage in foreign treaties. The 


safest method of guarding against the execution of those great 
powers, after the circumstances which dictated them have 
changed, is to limit their duration, trusting to renewals as they 
expire, if the original reasons continue. My experience of the 
uncertainty of getting an affirmative vote even of seven States 
had determined me, before I left Congress, always to contend 
for such limitations. 

I thought the sense of the term " appropriation " had been 
settled by the latter practice of Congress to be the same as you 
take it to be. I always understood that to be the true, the 
parliamentary, and the only rational sense. If no distinction 
be admitted between the "appropriation of money to general 
uses and "expenditures in detail," the Secretary of Congress 
could not buy quills or wafers without a vote of nine States 
entered on record, and the Secretary to the Committee of the 
States could not do it at all. In short, unless one vote of ap 
propriation can extend to a class of objects, there must be a 
physical impossibility of providing for them; and the extent 
and generality of such classes can only be determined by dis 
cretion and conveniency. It is observable, that in the specifi 
cation of the powers which require nine States, the single tech 
nical word " appropriate " is retained. In the general recital 
which precedes, the word "apply" as well as "appropriate" is 

You were not mistaken in supposing I had in conversation 
restrained the authority of the federal Court to territorial dis 
putes, but I was egregiously so in the opinion I had formed. 
Whence I got it I am utterly at a loss to account. It could not 
be from the Confederation itself, for words could not be more 
explicit. I detected the error a few days ago in consulting the 
articles on another subject, and had noted it for my next letter 
to you. 

I am not sure that I comprehend your idea of a cession of 
the Territory beyond the Kenhaway and on this side the Ohio. 
As all the soil of value has been granted out to individuals, a 
cession in that view would be improper, and a cession of the 
jurisdiction to Congress can be proper only where the Country 

1781. LETTERS. 73 

is vacant of settlers. I presume your meaning, therefore, to be 
no more than a separation of that country from this, and an 
incorporation of it into the Union; a work to which all three 
must be parties. I have no reason to believe there will be any 
repugnance on the part of Virginia. 

The effort of Pennsylvania for the Western commerce does 
credit to her public councils. The commercial genius of this 
State is too much in its infancy, I fear, to rival the example. 
Were this less the case, the confusion of its affairs must stifle 
all enterprize. I shall be better able, however, to judge of the 
practicability of your hint when I know more of them. 

The declension of Georgetown does not surprize me, tho it 
gives me regret. If the competition should lie between Trenton 
and Philadelphia, and depend on the vote of New York, it is 
not difficult to foresee into which scale it will be thrown, nor 
the probable effect of such decision on our Southern hopes. 

I have long regarded the council as a grave of useful talents, 
as well as objectionable in point of expence, yet I see not how 
such a reform as you suggest can be brought about. The Con 
stitution, tho readily overleaped by the Legislature on the 
spur of an occasion, would probably be made a bar to such an 
innovation. It directs that eight members be kept up, and re 
quires the sanction of four to almost every act of the Governor. 
Is it not to be feared, too, that these little meliorations of the 
Government may turn the edge of some of the arguments which 
ought to be laid to its root ? I grow every day more and more 
solicitous to see this essential work begun. Every day s delay 
settles the Government deeper into the habits of the people, and 
strengthens the prop which their acquiescence gives it. My 
field of observation is too small to warrant any conjecture of 
the public disposition towards the measure; but all with whom 
I converse lend a ready ear to it. Much will depend on the 
politics of Mr. Henry, which are wholly unknown to me. 
Should they be adverse, and G. Mason not in the Assembly, 
hazardous as delay is, the experiment must be put off to a more 
auspicious conjuncture. 

The charter granted in 1732 to Lord Baltimore makes, if I 


mistake not, the Southern shore of the Potowmac the boundary 
of Maryland on that side. The Constitution of Virginia cedes 
to that State " all the territories contained within its charter, 
with all the rights of property, jurisdiction, and Government, and 
all other rights whatsoever, which might at any time have been 
claimed by Virginia, excepting only the free navigation and use 
of the Rivers Potowmac and Pohomoque, &c." Is it not to be 
apprehended that this language will be construed into an entire 
relinquishment of the Jurisdiction of these rivers, and will not 
such a construction be fatal to our port regulations on that side, 
and otherwise highly inconvenient ? I was told on my journey 
along the Potowmac of several flagrant evasions which had 
been practiced with impunity and success by foreign vessels 
which had loaded at Alexandria. The jurisdiction of half the 
rivers ought to have been expressly reserved. The terms of 
the surrender are the more extraordinary as the patetits of the 
N. neck place the whole river Potowmac within the Govern 
ment of Virginia; so that we were armed with a title both of 
prior and posterior date to that of Maryland. What will be 
the best course to repair the error? to extend our laws upon 
the River, making Maryland the plaintiff if she chooses to con 
test their authority to state the case to her at once and pro 
pose a settlement by negociation or to propose a mutual ap 
pointment of Commissioners for the general purpose of preserv 
ing a harmony and efficacy in the regulations on both sides? 
The last mode squares best with my present ideas. It can give 
no irritation to Maryland; it can weaken no plea of Virginia; 
it will give Maryland an opportunity of stirring the question if 
she chooses; and will not be fruitless if Maryland should admit 
our jurisdiction. If I see the subject in its true light, no time 
should be lost in fixing the interest of Virginia. The good 
humour into which the cession of the back lands must have put 
Maryland forms an apt crisis for any negociations which may 
be necessary. You will be able, probably, to look into her 
charter and her laws, and to collect the leading sentiments rel 
ative to the matter. 

The winter has been so severe that I have never renewed m\ 

1784. LETTERS. 75 

call on the library of Monticello, and the time is now drawing 
so near when I may pass for a while into a different scene, that 
I shall await at least the return to my studies. Mr. L. Grymes 
told me a few days ago that a few of your books which had 
been borrowed by Mr. W. Maury, and ordered by him to be 
sent to his brother s, the clergyman, on their way to Monticello, 
were still at the place which Mr. M. removed from. I desired 
Mr. Grymes to send them to me instead of the Parson, suppos 
ing, as the distance is less, the books will probably be sooner 
out of danger from accidents, and that a conveyance from hence 
will not be less convenient. I calculated, also, on the use of 
such of them as may fall within my plan. 

I lately got home the trunk which contained my Buffon, but 
have barely entered upon him. My time begins already to be 
much less my own than during the winter blockade. I must 
leave to your discretion the occasional purchase of rare and 
valuable books, disregarding the risk of duplicates. You know 
tolerably well the objects of my curiosity. I will only partic 
ularize my wish of whatever may throw light on the general 
constitution and droit publique of the several confederacies 
which have existed. I observe in Boenaud s catalogue several 
pieces on the Dutch, the German, and the Helvetic. The oper 
ations of our own must render all such lights of consequence. 
Books on the law of N. & N. fall within a similar remark. The 
tracts of Bynkershoeck, which you mention, I must trouble you 
to get for me, and in French, if to be had, rather than latin. 
Should the body of his works come nearly as cheap as these 
select publications, perhaps it may be worth considering whether 
the whole would not be preferable. Is not Wolfius also worth 
having ? I recollect to have seen at Pritchard s a copy of Haw- 
kin s abridgement of Co. Litt. I would willingly take it if it 
be still there, and you have an opportunity. A copy of Deanc s 
letters, which were printed in New York, and which I failed to 
get before I left Philadelphia, I should also be glad of. I use 
this freedom in confidence that you will be equally free in con 
sulting your own conveniency whenever I encroach upon it. I 
hope you will be so, particularly in the request I have to add. 

76 WORKS OF MADISON. 178 1. 

One of my parents would be considerably gratified with a 
pair of good spectacles, which are not to be got here. The par 
ticular readiness of Dudley to serve you inclines ine to think 
that an order from you would be well executed. Will you, 
therefore, be so good as to get from him one of his best pebble 
and double-jointed pair, for the age fifty-five, or thereabouts, 
with a good case, and forward them by the first safe convey 
ance to me in Orange or at Richmond, as the case may be. If 
I had thought of this matter before Mr. Maury set out, I might 
have lessened your trouble. It is not material whether I be 
repayed at the Bank of Philadelphia or the Treasury of Vir 
ginia, but I beg it may be at neither till you are made secure 
by public remittances. It will be necessary, at any rate, for 
<20 or 30 to be left in your hands or in the Bank for little ex 
penditures which your kindness is likely to bring upon you. 

The Executive of South Carolina, as I am informed by the 
Attorney, have demanded of Virginia the surrender of a citizen 
of Virginia, charged on the affidavit of Jonas Beard, Esqr., 
whom the Executive of South Carolina represent to be " a Jus 
tice of the peace, a member of the Legislature, and a valuable, 
good man," as follows: that " three days before the 25th day of 
October, 1783, he (Mr. Beard) was violently assaulted by G. 
H., during the sitting of the Court of General Sessions, without 
any provocation thereto given, who beat him (Mr. B.) with his 
fist and switch over the face, head, and mouth, from which beat 
ing he was obliged to keep his room until the said 25th day of 
October, 1783, and call in the assistance of a physician." Such 
is the case as collected by Mr. Randolph from the letter of the 
Executive of South Carolina. The questions which arise upon 
it are: 1. Whether it be a charge of high misdemesnor within 
the meaning of the fourth Article of Confederation. 2. Whether, 
in expounding the terms high misdemeanor, the law of South 
Carolina, or the British law as in force in the United States 
before the Revolution, ought to be the standard. 3. If it be 
not a casus foederis, what the law of nations exacts of Virginia? 
4. If the law of nations contains no adequate provision for such 
occurrences, whether the intimacy of the Union among the 

1781 LETTERS. 77 

States, the relative position of some, and the common interest 
of all them in guarding against impunity for offences which can 
IDC punished only by the jurisdiction within which they are com 
mitted, do not call for some supplemental regulations on this 
subject? Mr. Randolph thinks Virginia not bound to surrender 
the fugitive until she be convinced of the facts, by more sub 
stantial information, and of its amounting to a high misdemesnor, 
by inspection of the law of South Carolina, which, and not the 
British law, ought to be the criterion. His reasons are too 
long to be rehearsed. 

I know not, my dear sir, what to reply to the affectionate 
invitation which closes your letter. I subscribe to the justness 
of your general reflections; I feel the attractions of the particu 
lar situation you point out to me. I cannot altogether renounce 
the prospect, still less can I as yet embrace it. It is very far 
from being improbable that a few years more may prepare me 
for giving such a destiny to my future life, in which case the 
same or some equally convenient spot may be commanded by a 
little augmentation of price. But wherever my final lot may 
fix me, be assured that I shall ever remain, with the sincerest 
affection and esteem, 

Your friend and servant. 


ORANGE, April 25th, 1784. 

DEAR SIR, Your favor of the 16th of March came to hand 
a few days before Mazzei called on me. His plan was to have 
proceeded hence directly to Annapolis. My conversation led 
him to premise a visit to Mr. Henry, from whence he proposed 
to repair to Richmond, and close his affairs with the Executive. 
Contrary to my expectation he returned hither on Thursday 
last, proposing to continue his circuit through Gloucester, York, 
and Williamsburg, recommended by Mr. Henry, for obtaining 


from the former members of the Council certain facts relating 
to his appointment, of which the vouchers have been lost. This 
delay, with the expectation of your adjournment, will probably 
prevent his visit to Congress. Your letter gave me the first 
information both of his views towards a Consulate and of his 
enmity towards Franklin; the first was not betrayed to me by 
any conversation either before or after I made known to him 
the determination of Congress to confine such appointments to 
natives of America. 

As to the 2nd, he was unreserved, alleging at the same time 
that the exquisite cunning of the old Fox has so enveloped his 
iniquity, that its reality cannot be proved by those who are 
thoroughly satisfied of it. It is evident, from several circum 
stances stated by himself, that his enmity has been embittered, 
if not wholly occasioned, by incidents of a personal nature. 
Mr. Adams is the only public man whom he thinks favorably 
of, or seems to have associated with, a circumstance which their 
mutual characters may perhaps account for. Notwithstanding 
these sentiments towards Franklin and Adams, his hatred of 
England remains unabated , and does not exceed his partiality 
for France, which, with many other considerations which need 
not be pointed out, persuade me that however dreadful an 
actual visit from him might be to you in a personal view, it 
would not produce the public mischiefs you apprehend from it. 

By his interview with Mr. Henry, I learn that the present 
politics of the latter comprehend very friendly views toward 
the confederacy, a wish tempered with much caution for an 
amendment of our own constitution, a patronage of the payment 
of British debts, and of a scheme of general assessment. 

The want of both a Thermometer and Barometer had deter 
mined me to defer a meteorological diary till I could procure 
these instruments. Since the receipt of your letter, I have 
attended to the other columns. 

I hope the letter which had not reached you at the date of 
your last did not altogether miscarry. On the 16th of March 
I wrote you fully on sundry points. Among others, I suggested 
to your attention the case of the Potowmac, having in my eye 

1784. LETTERS. 79 

the river below the head of navigation. It will be well, I 
think, to sound the ideas of Maryland also, as to the upper parts 
of the north branch of it. The policy of Baltimore will prob 
ably thwart, as far as possible, the opening of it; and without 
a very favorable construction of the right of Virginia, and even 
the privilege of using the Maryland Bank, it would seem that 
the necessary works could not be accomplished. 

Will it not be good policy to suspend further Treaties of 
Commerce till measures shall have taken place in America 
which may correct the idea in Europe of impotency in the fede 
ral Government in matters of Commerce? Has Virginia been 
seconded by any other State in her proposition for arming 
Congress with power to frustrate the unfriendly regulations of 
Great Britain with regard to her West India islands? It is 
reported here that the late change of her ministers has revived 
the former liberality which seemed to prevail on that subject. 
Is the Impost gaining or losing ground among the States? Do 
any considerable payments come into the Continental Treasury? 
Does the settlement of the public accounts make any comfort 
able progress? Has any resolution been taken by Congress 
touching the old Continental currency? Has Maryland fore- 
borne to take any steps in favour of George Town? Can you 
tell me whether any question in the Court of Appeals has yet 
determined whether the war ceased on our coast on the 3d of 
March or the 3d of April? 

The books which I was told were still at the place left by 
Mr. W. Maury had been sent away at the time Mr. L. Grymes 
informed me of them. 

Mr. Mazzei tells me that a subterraneous city has been dis 
covered in Siberia, which appears to have been once populous 
and magnificent. Among other curiosities it contains an eques- 
train statue, around the neck of which was a golden chain 200 
feet in length, so exquisitely wrought that Buffon inferred from 
a specimen of 6 feet, sent him by the Empress of Russia, that 
no artist in Paris could equal the workmanship. Mr. Mazzei 
saw the specimen in the hands of Buffon, and heard him give 
this opinion of it. He heard read at the same time a letter 


from the Empress to Buffon, in which she desired the present to 
be considered as a tribute to the man to whom Natural History 
was so much indebted. Mr. Faujas de St. Fond thought the 
city was between 72 and 74 N. L.; the son of Buffon, between 
62 and 64. Mr. M., being on the point of departure, had no 
opportunity of ascertaining the fact. If you should have had 
no better account of the discovery, this will not be unaccepta 
ble to you, and will lead you to obtain one. 

I propose to set off for Richmond towards the end of this 
week. The election in this county was on thursday last. My 
colleague is Mr. Charles Porter. 

I am, your affect 6 friend. 


RICHMOXD, May 15th, 1784. 

* * * * * * * 

The arrangement which is to carry you to Europe has been 
made known to me by Mr. Short, who tells me he means to ac 
company or follow you. With the many reasons which make 
this event agreeable, I cannot but mix some regret that your 
aid towards a revisal of our State Constitution will be removed. 
I hope, however, for your licence to make use of the ideas you 
were so good as to confide to me, so far as they may be neces 
sary to forward the object. Whether any experiment will be 
made this session is uncertain. Several members with whom I 
have casually conversed give me more encouragement than I had 
indulged. As Col. Mason remains in private life, the expediency 
of starting the idea will depend much on the part to be expected 
from R. H. Lee and Mr. Henry. The former is not yet come 
to this place, nor can I determine any thing as to his politics 
on this point. The latter arrived yesterday, and from a short 
conversation I find him strenuous for invigorating the Federal 
Government, though without any precise plan, but have got no 

1784. LETTERS. 81 

explanations from him as to our internal Government. The 
general train of his thoughts seemed to suggest favorable ex 
pectations. We did not make a house till Wednesday last, and 
have done nothing yet but arrange the committees and receive 
petitions. The former Speaker was re-elected without opposi 
tion. If you will, either before or after your leaving America, 
point out the channel of communication with you in Europe, I 
will take the pleasure of supplying you from time to time with 
our internal transactions, as far as they may deserve your atten 
tion; and expect that you will freely command every other 
service during your absence which it may be in my power to 

Wishing you every success and happiness, I am, dear sir, your 
affec te friend, 


RICHMOND. June 5th, 1784. 

The House of Delegates have agreed to postpone the June 
tax till January. It is not improbable that the Senate may re 
quire half to be collected at an earlier period. 


June 15th. The Senate have ratified the postponement of 
the taxes till the last day of January. It is thought by some 
that an intermediate tax of some kind or other will be essential, 
but whether any such will take place is uncertain, and perhaps 
improbable, though we shall make a strange figure, after our 
declarations with regard to Congress and the Continental debt, 

if we wholly omit the means of fulfilling them. 
* * * * * 

June 24^. Much time has been lately spent by the Assembly 
in abortive efforts for an amendment of the Constitution, and 
fulfilling the Treaty of Peace in the article of British debts. 

VOL. i 6 


The residue of the business will not be completed till next 

[Notes in the hand-writing of Mr. Madison, of a speech made by him in the 
House of Delegates of Virginia, at the May session of 1784, in support of a prop 
osition for a Convention to revise the Constitution of the State :] 

I. Nature of Constitution exam d . See Mass., P. 7, 8, 15, 
16; N. Y., P. 63; Penn a , P. 85, 86; Del., P. 106; N. C., P. 146, 
150; S. C., P. 188; Geo., P. 186. 

II. Convention of 1776, without due power from people. 

1. Passed ordinance for Constit un on recommendation of 
Cong 8 of 15 May, prior to Declar 11 of Independence, as was 
done in N. H., P. 1, & N. J., P. 78, 84. 

2. Passed from impulse of necessity. See last clause of the 

3. Before independence declared by Cong 8 . 

4. Power from people nowhere pretended. 

5. Other ordinances of same session deemed alterable, as rel 
ative to Senators oaths salt. 

6. Provision for case of west Augusta, in its nature tempo 

7. Convention make themselves branch of the Legislature. 

III. Constitution, if so to be called, defective. 

1. In a union of powers, which is tyranny. Montesq n . 

2. Executive Department dependent on Legislature: 1, for sal 
ary; 2, for character in triennial expulsion; 3, expensive: 4, may 
be for life, contrary to article 5 of Declaration of rights. 

3. Judiciary dependent for am* of salary. 

4. Privileges and wages of members of Legislature unlimited 
and undefined. 

5. Senate badly constituted and improperly barred of the 
originating of Laws. 

6. Equality of representation not provided for. See N. Y., 
P. 65; S. C., P. 165. 

7. Impeachments of great moment on bad footing. 

1784. BRITISH DEBTS. 83 

8. County courts seem to be fixed, P. 143, 144; also general 

9. Habeas corpus omitted. 

10. No mode of expounding Constitution, and of course no 
check to Gen 1 Assembly. 

11. Right of suffrage not well fixed quaere, if popish recu 
sants, <fcc,, not disfranchised? 

IV. Constitution rests on acquiescence a bad basis. 

V. Revision during war improper; on return of peace, de 
cency requires surrender of powers to people. 

VI. No danger in referring to the people, who already exer 
cise an equivalent power. 

VII. If no change be made in the Constitution, it is advisable 
to have it ratified and secured against the doubts and imputa 
tions under which it now labors. 

[Proposition of Mr. Madison, on the subject of British Debts, submitted to the 
House of Delegates of Virginia, at the May session, 1784 :] 

Whereas by the 4th article of the Definitive Treaty of peace, 
ratified and proclaimed by the United States in Congress as 
sembled, on the 14th day of Jany. last, "it is agreed that credi 
tors on either side shall meet with no lawful impediment to the 
recovery of the full value in sterling money of all bbna fide 
debts heretofore contracted;" and whereas it is the duty and 
determination of this Commonwealth, with a becoming rever 
ence for the faith of Treaties, truly and honestly to give to the 
said article all the effect which circumstances not within its 
controul will now possibly admit; and inasmuch as the debts 
due from the good people of this Commonwealth to the subjects 
of G. Britain were contracted under the prospect of gradual 
payments, and are justly computed to exceed the possibility of 
full payment at once, more especially under the diminution of 
their property resulting from the devastations of the late war, 
and it is therefore conceived that the interest of the British 
Creditors themselves will be favored by fixing certain reason 
able periods at which divided payments shall be made : 


Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee that the 
laws now in force relative to British debts ought to be so varied 
and emended as to make the same recoverable in the propor 
tions and at the periods following; that is to say, part thereof, 
with interest of 5 pr ct. from the date of the Definitive Treaty 

of peace, on the day of , another on the day of - , 

another on the day of , and the remaining on the day 

of . 

And whereas it is further stipulated by Art. 7th of the said 
Treaty, among other things, that "his Britannic Majesty shall 
with all convenient speed, and without causing any destruction, 
or carrying away any negroes or other property of the Ameri 
can inhabitants, withdraw all his armies, garrisons, and fleets, 
from the said United States, and from every port, place, and 
Harbour, within the same, leaving in all fortifications the Amer 
ican artillery that may be therein, and shall also order and 
cause all archives, records, deeds, and papers, belonging to any 
of the said States, or their citizens, which in the course of the 
war may have fallen into the hands of his officers, to be forth 
with restored and delivered to the proper States and persons 
to whom they belong," which stipulation was in the same 
words contained in the Provisional articles, signed at Paris on 
the 30th day of November, 1782, by the Commissioners em 
powered on each part; and whereas posterior to the date of 
the said provisional articles, sundry negroes, the property of 
citizens of this Commonwealth, were carried away from the city 
of New York whilst in possession of the British forces, and no 
restitution or satisfaction on that head has been made, either 
before or since the Definitive Treaty of Peace; and whereas 
the good people of this Commonwealth have a clear right to 
expect that whilst, on one side, they are called upon by the U. 
S. in Congress assembled, to whom by the federal Constitution 
the powers of War and Peace are exclusively delegated, to 
carry into effect the stipulations in favour of British subjects, 
an equal observance of the stipulations in their own favor 
should, on the other side, be duly secured to them under the 
authority of the confederacy : 

1784. LETTERS. 85 

Resolved, that it is the opinion of this Committee that the 
Delegates representing this State in Congress ought to be in 
structed to urge in Congress peremptory measures for obtain 
ing from G. Britain satisfaction for the infringement of the 
article aforesaid; and in case of refusal or unreasonable delay 
of such satisfaction, to urge that the sanction of Congress be 
given to the just policy of retaining so much of the debts due 
from citizens of this Commonwealth to British subjects as will 
fully repair the losses sustained from such infringement; and 
that to enable the said Delegates to proceed herein with the 
greater precision and effect, the Executive ought to be requested 
to take immediate measures for obtaining and transmitting to 
them all just claims of the citizens of this Commonwealth under 
the 7th art., as aforesaid. 


RICHMOND, July 2d, 1784. 

DEAR SIR, The sanction given by your favor of the 12th to 
my -desire of remunerating the genius which produced " Common 
Sense," has led to a trial in the Legislature for the purpose. 
The gift first proposed was a moiety of the tract on the Eastern 
Shore known by the name of the Secretary s land. The easy 
reception it found induced the friends of the measure to add the 
other moity to the proposition, which would have raised the 
market value of the donation to about 4,000, or upwards; 
though it would not probably have commanded a rent of more 
than XI 00 per annum. In this form the Bill passed through 
two readings. The third reading proved that the tide had 
suddenly changed,* for the Bill was thrown out by a large 
majority. An attempt was next made to sell the land in ques 
tion, and apply 2,000 of the money to the purchase of a Farm 
for Mr. Paine. This was lost by a single vote. Whether a 

* The change was produced by prejudices against Mr. Paine, thrown into cir 
culation by Mr. Arthur Lee, [on account of Paine s pamphlet in opposition to 
the Territorial claims of Virginia.] 


greater disposition to reward patriotic and distinguished exer 
tions of genius will be found on any succeeding occasion is not 
for me to predetermine. Should it finally appear that the 
merits of the Man, whose writings have so much contributed to 
infuse and foster the spirit of Independence in the people of 
America, are unable to inspire them with a just beneficence, the 
world, it is to be feared, will give us as little credit for our 
policy as for our gratitude in this particular. The wish of Mr. 
Paine to be provided for by separate acts of the States, rather 
than by Congress, is, I think, a natural and just one. In the 
latter case it might be construed into the wages of a mercenary 
writer. In the former, it would look like the returns of grati 
tude for voluntary services. Upon the same principle, the mode 
wished by Mr. Paine ought to be preferred by the States them 


RICHMOND, July 3d, 1784. 

DEAR SIR, The Assembly adjourned the day before yester 
day. I have been obliged to remain here since on private busi 
ness for my Countrymen with the Auditor s and other depart 
ments. I had allotted towards the close of the session to un 
dertake a narration for you of the proceedings, but the hurry, 
on which I did not sufficiently calculate, rendered it impossible, 
and I now find myself so abridged in time that I cannot fulfil 
iny intentions. It will, however, be the less material, as Mr. 
Short, by whom this goes, will be possessed of almost every 
thing I could say. I inclose you a list of the acts passed, ex 
cepting a few which had not received the last solemnity when 
the list went to the press. Among the latter is an Act under 
which 1 per cent, of the land tax will be collected this fall, and 
will be for Congress. This, with the 1 J per cent, added to the 
impost on trade, will be all that Congress will obtain on their 
last requisition for this year. It will be much short of what 
they need, and of what might be expected from the declarations 

1784. LETTERS. 87 

with which we introduced the business of the Session. These 
declarations will be seen in the Journal, a copy of which I take 
for granted will be carried by Mr. Short. Another act not or, 
the list lays duties on law proceedings, on alienations of land, 
on probats of wills, administration, and some other transactions 
which pass through official hands. This tax may be considered 
as the basis of a stamp tax; it will probably yield fifteen or 
twenty thousand pounds at present, which is set apart for the 
foreign Creditors of this State. 

We made a warm struggle for the establishment of Norfolk 
and Alexandria as our only ports; but were obliged to add 
York, Tappahannock, and Bermuda hundred, in order to gain 
any thing and to restrain to these ports foreigners only. The 
footing on which British debts are put will appear from the 
Journal, noting only that a law is now in force which forbids 
suits for them. The minority in the Senate have protested on 
the subject. Having not seen the protest, I must refer to Mr. 
Short, who will no doubt charge himself with it. 

A trial was made for a State Convention, but in a form not 
the most lucky. The adverse temper of the House, and partic 
ularly of Mr. Henry, had determined me to be silent on the 
subject. But a petition from Augusta, having among other 
things touched on a Reform of the Government, and R. H. Lee 
arriving with favorable sentiments, we thought it might not be 
amiss to stir the matter. Mr. Stuart, from Augusta, accord 
ingly proposed to the Committee of propositions the Resolutions 
reported to the House, as per Journal. Unluckily, R. H. Lee 
was obliged by sickness to leave us the day before the question 
came on in committee of the whole, and Mr. Henry shewed a 
more violent opposition than we expected. The consequence 
was, that after two days Debate the Report was negatived, and 
the majority, not content with stopping the measure for the pres 
ent, availed themselves of their strength to put a supposed bar 
on the Journal against a future possibility of carrying it. The 
members for a Convention with full powers were not consider 
able for number, but included most of the young men of educa 
tion and talents. A great many would have concurred in a 


Convention for specified amendments, but they were not dis 
posed to be active even for such a qualified plan. 

Several petitions came forward in behalf of a General assess 
ment, which was reported by the Committee of Religion to be 
reasonable. The friends of the measure did not chuse to try 
their strength in the House. The Episcopal Clergy introduced 
a notable project for re-establishing their independence of the 
laity. The foundation of it was, that the whole body should be 
legally incorporated, invested with the present property of the 
Church, made capable of acquiring indefinitely, empowered to 
make canons and bye-laws not contrary to the laws of the land, 
and incumbents, when once chosen by vestries, to be immoveable 
otherwise than by sentence of the convocation. Extraordinary 
as such a project was, it was preserved from a dishonorable death 
by the talents of Mr. Henry. It lies over for another session. 

The public lands at Richmond not wanted for public use are 
ordered to be sold, and the money, aided by subscriptions, to be 
applied to the erection of buildings on the Hill, as formerly 
planned. This fixes the Government, which was near being 
made as vagrant as that of the United States, by a coalition 
between the friends of Williamsburg and Staunton. The point 
was carried by a small majority only. 

The lands about Williamsburg are given to the University, 
and are worth, Mr. H. Tazewell thinks, 10,000 to it. For the 
encouragement of Mr. Maury s School, licence is granted for a 
lottery to raise not more than 2,000. 

The revisal is ordered to be printed. A frivolous economy 
restrained the number of copies to 500. I shall secure the num 
ber you want and forward them by the first opportunity. The 
three revisors labour was recollected on this occasion, and 
500 voted for each. I have taken out your warrant in five 
parts, that it may be the more easily converted to use. It is to 
be paid out of the first unappropriated money in the Treasury, 
which renders its value very precarious unless the Treasurer 
should be willing to endorse it " receivable in taxes," which he 
is not obliged to do. I shall await your orders as to the dis 
position of it. 

178k LETTERS. 89 

An effort was made for Paine, and the prospect once flatter 
ing. But a sudden opposition was brewed up, which put a neg 
ative on every form which could be given to the proposed re 
muneration. Mr. Short will give you particulars. 

Col. Mason, the Attorney, Mr. Henderson, and myself, are to 
negociate with Maryland, if she will appoint Commissioners to 
establish regulations for the Potowmac. 

Since the receipt of yours of May 8, I have made diligent en 
quiry concerning the several schools most likely to answer for 
the education of your nephews. My information has determined 
me finally to prefer that of Mr. "W. Maury, as least exception 
able. I have accordingly recommended it to Mrs. Carr, and 
on receiving her answer shall write to Mr. Maury, pointing out 
your wishes as to the course of study proper for Master Carr. 
I have not yet made up any opinion as to the disposition of 
your younger nephew, but shall continue my enquiries till I can 
do so. I find a greater deficiency of proper schools than I 
could have supposed, low as my expectations were on the sub 
ject. All that I can assure you of is, that I shall pursue your 
wishes with equal pleasure and faithfulness. 

Your hint for appropriating the Slave tax to Congress fell in 
precisely with the opinion I had formed and suggested to those 
who are most attentive to our finances. The existing appro 
priation of half of it, however, to the military debt, was deemed 
a bar to such a measure. I wished for it because the slave 
holders are Tobacco makers, and will generally have hard 
money, which alone will serve for Congress. Nothing can ex 
ceed the confusion which reigns throughout our revenue depart 
ment. We attempted, but in vain, to ascertain the amount of 
our debts and of our resources, as a basis for something like a 
system. Perhaps by the next session the information may be 
prepared. This confusion, indeed, runs through all our public 
affairs, and must continue as long as the present mode of legis 
lating continues. If we cannot amend the Constitution, we 
must at least call in the aid of accurate penmen for extending 
Resolutions into bills, which at present are drawn in a manner 


that -must soon bring our laws and our Legislature into con 
tempt among all orders of Citizens. 

I have communicated your request from Philadelphia, May 
25, to Mr. Zane. He writes by Mr. Short, and tells me he is 
possessed of the observations which he promised you. I found 
no opportunity of broaching a scheme for opening the naviga 
tion of the Potowmac under the auspices of General Washing 
ton, or of providing for such occurrences as the case of Marbois. 
With the aid of the Attorney, perhaps something may be done 
on the 1-atter point next Session. 

Adieu, my dear friend. 


ORANGE, August 20th, 1784. 

DEAR SIR, Your favor of the 1st July, written on the eve 
of your embarcation from Boston, was safely delivered by your 
servant Bob about the 20th of the same month. Along with it 
I received the pamphlet on the West India trade, and a copy of 
Deane s letters. 

My last was written from Richmond on the adjournment of 
the General Assembly, and put into the hands of Mr. Short. It 
contained a cursory view of legislative proceedings, referring 
to the bearer for a more circumstantial one. Since the adjourn 
ment, I have been so little abroad that I am unable to say with 
certainty how far those proceedings harmonize with the vox 
populi. The opinion of some who have better means of infor 
mation is, that a large majority of the people, either from a 
sense of private justice or of national faith, dislike the footing 
on which British debts are placed. The proceedings relative 
to an amendment of the State Constitution seem to interest the 
public much less than a friend to the scheme would wish. 

The act which produces most agitation and discussion is that 
which restrains foreign trade to enumerated ports. Those who 

1784. LETTERS. 91 

meditate a revival of it on the old plan of British monopoly 
and diffusive credit, or whose mercantile arrangements might 
be disturbed by the innovation, with those whose local situa 
tions give them, or are thought to give them, an advantage in 
large vessels coming up the rivers to their usual stations, are 
busy in decoying the people into a belief that trade ought in 
all cases to be left to regulate itself; that to confine it to par 
ticular ports is to renounce the boon with which nature has 
favoured our country; and that if one set of men are to be im 
porters and exporters, another set to be carryers between the 
mouths and heads of the rivers, and a third retailers, trade, as 
it must pass through so many hands, all taking a profit, must 
in the end come dearer to the people than if the simple plan 
should be continued which unites these several branches in the 
same hands. 

These and other objections, tho unsound, are not altogether 
unplausible, and being propagated with more zeal and pains by 
those who have a particular interest to serve than proper an 
swers are by those who regard the general interest only, make 
it very possible that the measure may be rescinded before it is 
to -take effect. Should it escape such a fate, it will be owing 
to a few striking and undeniable facts, namely, that goods are 
much dearer in Virginia than in the States where trade is drawn 
to a general mart; that even goods brought from Philadelphia 
and Baltimore to Winchester, and other Western and South 
Western parts of Virginia, are retailed cheaper than those im 
ported directly from Europe are sold on tide water; that gen 
erous as the present price of our Tobacco appears, the same 
article has currently sold 15 or 20 per cent, at least higher in 
Philadelphia, where, being as far from the ultimate market, it 
cannot be intrinsically worth more; that scarce a single vessel 
from any part of Europe, other than the British Dominions, 
comes into our ports, whilst vessels from so many other parts 
of Europe resort to other ports of America, almost all of them, 
too, in pursuit of the staple of Virginia. 

The exemption of our own citizens from the restrictions is 
another circumstance that helps to parry attacks on the policy 


of it. The warmest friends to the law were averse to this dis 
crimination, which not only departs from its principle, but gives 
it an illiberal aspect to foreigners; but it was a necessary con 
cession to prevailing sentiments. The like discrimination be 
tween our own citizens and those of other States, contrary to 
the federal articles, is an erratum which was omitted to be rec 
tified, but will no doubt be so. 

Notwithstanding the languor of our direct trade with Europe, 
this country has indirectly tasted some of the fruits of Independ 
ence. The price of our last crop of Tobacco has been, on 
James River, from 36s. to 42s. tid. pr cwt., and has brought more 
specie into the country than it ever before contained at one 
time. The price of Hemp, however, has been reduced as much 
by the peace as that of Tobacco has been raised, being sold, I 
am told, as low as 20s. per cwt. beyond the Mountains. Our 
crops of wheat have been rather scanty, owing partly to the 
rigors of the Winter, partly to an insect,* which in many places 
has destroyed whole fields of that grain. The same insect has, 
since the harvest, fallen upon the Corn with considerable dam 
age; but without some very unusual disaster to that article the 
crop will be exuberant, and will afford plentiful supplies for 
the W. India Islands, if their European Masters will no longer 
deny themselves the benefit of such a trade with us. The crop 
of the Tobacco now on the ground will, if the weather continues 
favorable, be tolerably good, though much shortened on the 
whole by the want of early seasons for transplanting, and an 
uncommon number of the insects which prey upon it in its dif 
ferent stages. It will be politic, I think, for the people here to 
push the culture of this article whilst the price keeps up, it be 
coming more apparent every day that the richness of soil and 
fitness of climate on the Western waters will, in a few years, 
both reduce the price and engross the culture of it. This event 
begins to be generally foreseen, and increases the demand 
greatly for land on the Ohio. What think you of a guinea an 
acre being already the price for choice tracts, with sure titles? 

* Chinch-bug. 

1784. LETTERS. 93 

Nothing can delay such a revolution with regard to our staple 
but an impolitic and perverse attempt in Spain to shut the 
mouth of the Mississippi against the inhabitants above. I say 
delay, because she can no more finally stop the current of trade 
down the river than she can that of the river itself. The im 
portance of this matter is in almost every mouth. I am fre 
quently asked what progress has been made towards a treaty 
with Spain, and what may be expected from her liberality on 
this point, the querists all counting on an early ability in the 
western settlements to apply to other motives, if necessary. 
My answers have, both from ignorance and prudence, been e^ T a- 
sive. I have not thought fit, however, to cherish unfavorable 
impressions, being more and more led by revolving the subject 
to conclude that Spain will never be so mad as to persist in her 
present ideas. For want of better matter for correspondence, 
I will state the grounds on which I build my expectations. 

First. Apt as the policy of nations is to disregard justice and 
the general rights of mankind, I deem it no small advantage 
that these considerations are in our favour. They must be felt 
in some degree by the most corrupt councils on a question 
whether the interest of millions shall be sacrificed to views con 
cerning a distant and paltry settlement; they are every day 
acquiring weight from, the progress of philosophy and civiliza 
tion, and they must operate on those nations of Europe who 
have given us a title to their friendly offices, or who may wish 
to gain a title to ours. 

Secondly. May not something be hoped from the respect which 
Spain may feel for consistency of character on an appeal to the 
doctrine maintained by herself in the year 1609, touching the 
Sclield, or at least from the use which may be made of that fact 
by the powers disposed to favor our views ? 

Thirdly. The interest of Spain at least ought to claim her 
attention. 1. A free trade down the Mississippi would make 
New Orleans one of the most flourishing emporiums in the 
world, and deriving its happiness from the benevolence of 
Spain, it would feel a firm loyalty to her government. At present 
it is an expensive establishment, settled chiefly by French, who 


hate the government which oppresses them, who already covet 
a trade with the upper country, will become every day more 
sensible of the rigor which denies it to them, and will join in 
any attempt which may be made against their masters. 2d. A 
generous policy on the part of Spain towards the United States 
will be the cement of friendship and lasting peace with them. 
A contrary one will produce immediate heart burnings, and sow 
the seeds of inevitable hostility. The United States are already 
a power not to be despised by Spain; the time cannot be distant 
when, in spite of all precautions, the safety of her possessions 
in this quarter of the Globe must depend more on our peace- 
ableness than her own power. 3. In another view, it is against 
the interest of Spain to throw obstacles in the way of our West 
ern settlements. The part she took during the late war shews 
that she apprehended less from the power growing up in her 
neighborhood in a state of independence than as an instrument 
in the hands of Great Britain. If in this she calculated on the 
impotence of the United States, when dismembered from the 
British empire, she saw but little way into futurity; if on the 
pacific temper of republics, unjust irritations on her part will 
soon prove to her that these have like passions with other gov 
ernments. Her permanent security seems to lie in the complexity 
of our federal government, and the diversity of interests among 
the members of it, which render offensive measures improbable 
in council and difficult in execution. If such be the case, when 
thirteen States compose the system, ought she not to wish to 
see the number enlarged to three and twenty ? A source of 
temporary security to her is our want of naval strength: ought 
she not, then, to favor those emigrations to the Western land 
which, as long as they continue, will leave no supernumerary 
hands for the sea ? 

Fourthly. Should none of these circumstances affect her 
councils, she cannot surely so far disregard the usage of nations 
as to contend that her possessions at the mouth of the Missis 
sippi justify a total denial of the use of it to the inhabitants 
above, when possessions much less disproportionate at the mouth 
of other rivers have been admitted only as a title to a moderate 

1784. LETTERS. 95 

toll. The case of the Rhine, the Maese, and the Scheld, as well 
as the Elbe and Oder, are, if I mistake not, in point here. How 
far other Rivers may afford parallel cases, I cannot say. That 
of the Mississippi is probably the strongest in the world. 

Fifthly. Must not the general interest of Europe in all cases 
influence the determinations of any particular nation in Europe, 
and does not that interest in the present case clearly lie on our 
side? 1. All the principal powers have, in a general view, 
more to gain than to lose by denying a right of those who hold 
the mouths of rivers to intercept a communication with them 
above. France, Great Britain, and Sweden, have no opportu 
nity of exerting such a right, and must wish a free passage for 
their merchandize in every country. Spain herself has no such 
opportunity, and has, besides, three of her principal rivers, one 
of them the seat of her metropolis, running through Portugal. 
Russia can have nothing to lose by denying this pretension, and 
is bound to do so in favor of her great rivers, the Neiper, the 
Niester, and the Don, which mouth in the Black sea, and of the 
passage thro the Dardanelles, which she extorted from the 
Turks. The Emperor, in common with the inland States of 
Germany, and, moreover, by his possessions on the Maese and 
the Scheld, has a similar interest. The possessions of the King 
of Prussia on the Rhine, the Elbe, and the Oder, are pledges 
for his orthodoxy. 

The United Provinces hold, it is true, the mouths of the 
Maese, the Rhine, and the Scheld, but a general freedom of 
trade is so much their policy, and they now carry on so much 
of it through the channel of rivers flowing thro different do 
minions, that their weight can hardly be thrown into the wrong 
scale. The only powers that can have an interest in opposing 
the American doctrine are the Ottoman, which has already 
given up the point to Russia; Denmark, which is suffered to re 
tain the entrance of the Baltic; Portugal, whose principal rivers 
head in Spain; Venice, which holds the mouth of the Po; and 
Dantzick, which commands that of the Vistula, if it is yet to be 
considered as a sovereign City. The prevailing disposition of 
Europe on this point once frustrated an attempt of Denmark 


to exact a toll at the mouth of the Elbe by means of a fort on 
the Holstein side, which commands it. The fact is mentioned 
in Salmon s Gazetteer, under the head of Cluestadt. I have no 
opportunity of ascertaining the circumstances of the case, or of 
discovering like cases. 

2. In a more important view, the settlement of the Western 
country, which will much depend on the free use of the Missis 
sippi, will be beneficial to all nations who either directly or in 
directly trade with the United States. By a free expansion of 
our people the establishment of internal manufactures will not 
only be long delayed, but the consumption of foreign manufac 
tures long continue increasing; and at the same time, all the 
productions of the American soil, required by Europe in return 
for her manufactures, will proportionably increase. The vacant 
land of the United States lying on the waters of the Mississippi 
is, perhaps, equal in extent to the land actually settled. If no 
check be given to the emigrations from the latter to the former, 
they will probably keep pace at least with the increase of our 
people, till the population of both becomes nearly equal. For 
twenty or twenty-five years we shall consequently have as few 
internal manufactures in proportion to our numbers as at pres 
ent, and at the end of that period our imported manufactures 
will be doubled. It may be observed, too, that as the market 
for their manufactures will first increase, and the provision for 
supplying it will follow, the price of supplies will naturally rise 
in favor of those who manufacture them. On the other hand, 
as the demand for the tobacco, indigo, rice, corn, <fec., produced 
by America for exportation, will neither precede nor keep pace 
with their increase, the price must naturally sink in favor also 
of those who consume them. 

Reverse the case by supposing the use of the Mississippi de 
nied to us, and the consequence is, that many of our supernu 
merary hands who, in the former case, would bo husbandmen on 
the waters of the Mississippi, will, on the latter supposition, be 
manufacturers on those of the Atlantic, and even those who may 
not be discouraged from seating the vacant lands will be obliged, 
by the want of vent for the produce of the soil, and of the means 

1784. LETTERS. 97 

of purchasing foreign manufactures, to manufacture in a great 
measure for themselves. 

Should Spain yield the point of the navigation of the Missis 
sippi, but at the same time refuse us the use of her shores, the 
benefit will be ideal only. I have conversed with several per 
sons who have a practical knowledge of the subject, all of whom 
assure me that not only the right of fastening to the Spanish 
shore, but that of holding an entrepot in our own, or of using 
New Orleans as a free port, is essential to a free trade through 
that channel. It has been said that sea vessels can get up as 
high as latitude thirty-two to meet the river craft, but it will 
be with so much difficulty and disadvantage as to amount to a 

The idea has also been suggested of large magazines con 
structed for floating; but if this expedient were otherwise ad 
missible, the hurrica nes, which in that quarter frequently de 
molish edifices on land, forbid the least confidence in those 
which would have no foundation but water. Some territorial 
privileges, therefore, seem to be as indispensable to the use of 
the river as this is to the prosperity of the western country. 

A place called " The Englishman s turn," on the island of 
about six leagues below the town of New Orleans, is, I am told, 
the fittest for our purpose, and that the lower side of the pen 
insula is the best. Batonrouge is also mentioned as a conve 
nient station; and Point Coupk as the highest to which vessels 
can ascend with tolerable ease. Information, however, of this, 
from men who judge from a general and superficial view only, 
ran never be received as accurate. If Spain be sincerely dis 
posed to gratify us, I hope she will be sensible it cannot be 
done effectually without allowing a previous survey and delib 
erate choice. 

Should it be impossible to obtain from her a portion of ground 
by other means, would it be unadvisable to attempt it by pur 
chase ? The price demanded could not well exceed the benefit 
to be obtained, and a reimbursement of the public advance 
might easily be provided for by the sale to individuals, and the 
conditions which might be annexed to their tenures. Such a 

VOL. I 7 


spot could not fail, in a little time, to equal in value tlie same 
extent in London or Amsterdam. 

The most intelligent of those with whom I have conversed 
think that, on whatever footing our trade may be allowed, very 
judicious provision will be necessary for a fair adjustment of 
disputes between the Spaniards and the Americans disputes 
which must be not only noxious to trade, but tend to embroil 
the two nations. Perhaps a joint tribunal, under some modifica 
tion or other, might answer the purpose. There is a precedent, 
I see, for such an establishment, in the twenty-first article of the 
treaty of Minister, in 1648, between Spain and the United Neth 

I am informed that, sometime after New Orleans passed into 
the hands of Spain, her Governor forbid all British vessels nav 
igating under the treaty of Paris to fasten to the shore, and 
caused such as did so to be cut loose. In consequence of this 
practice a British frigate went up near the Town, fastened to 
the shore, and set out guards to fire on any who might attempt 
to cut her loose. The Governor, after trying in vain to remove 
the frigate by menaces, acquiesced, after which British vessels 
indiscriminately used the shore; and even the residence of British 
Merchants in the town of New Orleans, trading clandestinely 
with the Spaniards, as well as openly with their own people, was 
winked at. The Treaty of 1763 stipulated to British subjects, 
as well as I recollect, no more than the right of navigating the 
river; and if that of using was admitted under that stipulation, 
the latter right must have been admitted to be included in the 



In consequence of my letter to Mrs. Carr, I have been called 
on by your elder nephew, who is well satisfied with the choice 
made of Williamsburg for his future studies. I have furnished 
him with letters to my acquaintance there, and with a draught 
on your steward for 12. He will be down by the opening of 
Mr. Maury s school at the close of the vacation, which lasts 
from the beginning of August to the end of September. I have 
the greater hopes that the preference of this school will turn 

1784. LETTERS. 99 

out a proper one as it lias received the approbation of the lit 
erary gentlemen of Williamsburg, and will be periodically ex 
amined by Mr. Wythe and others. Your younger nephew is 
with Major Callis, who will keep school some time longer. I 
am at a loss as yet where to fix him, but will guard as much as 
possible against any idle interval. 

I am, very affect ely , dear Sir, your friend and serv* 


PHILADELPHIA, Sep r 7th, 1784. 

DEAR SIR, Some business, the need of exercise after a very 
sedentary period, and the view of extending my ramble into the 
Eastern States, which I have long had a curiosity to see. have 
brought me to this place. ****** At Baltimore 
I fell in with the Marquis de la Fayette, returning from a visit 
to Mount Vernon. Wherever he passes he receives the most 
flattering tokens of sincere affection from all ranks. He did 
not propose to have left Virginia so soon, but General Wash 
ington was about setting out on a trip to the Ohio, and could 
not then accompany him on some visits, as he wished to do. 
The present plan of the Marquis is to proceed immediately to 
New York; thence, by Rhode Island, to Boston; thence thro 
Albany to Fort Schuyler, where a treaty with the Indians is to 
be held the latter end of this month; thence to Virginia, so as 
to meet the Legislature at Richmond. I have some thoughts 
of making this tour with him, but suspend my final resolution 
till I get to New York, whither I shall follow him in a day or 

The relation in which the Marquis stands to France and 
America has induced me to enter into a free conversation with 
him on the subject of the Mississippi. I have endeavored em 
phatically to impress on him that the ideas of America and of 
Spain irreconcileably clash; that unless the mediation of France 
be effectually exerted, an actual rupture is near at hand; that 

100 WORKS OF MADISON. i: S i. 

in such an event, the connection between France and Spain will 
give the enemies of the former in America the fairest opportu 
nity of involving her in our resentments against the latter, and 
of introducing Great Britain as a party with us against both; 
that America cannot possibly be diverted from her object, and 
therefore France is bound to set every engine at work to divert 
Spain from hers; and that France has, besides, a great interest 
in a trade with the western country through the Mississippi. 

I thought it not amiss, also, to suggest to him some of the con 
siderations which seem to appeal to the prudence of Spain. He 
admitted the force of everything I said; told me he would write 
in the most [favorable] terms to the Count de Vergennes by the 
packet which will probably carry this, and let me see his letter 
at New York before he sends it. He thinks that Spain is bent 
on excluding us from the Mississippi, and mentioned several 
anecdotes which happened while he was at Madrid in proof 
of it. 

The Committee of the States have dispersed. Several of the 
Eastern members having, by quitting it, reduced the number 
below a quorum, the impotent remnant thought it needless to 
keep together. It is not probable they will be reassembled be 
fore November, so that there will be an entire interregnum of 
the federal Government for some time, against the intention of 
Congress I apprehend, as well as against every rule of deco 

The Marquis this moment stepped into my room, and, seeing 
my cyphers before me, dropped some questions which obliged 
me, in order to avoid reserve, to let him know that I was wri 
ting to you. I said nothing of the subject, but he will probably 
infer from our conversation that the Mississippi is most in my 

Mrs. House charges me with a thousand compliments and 
kind wishes for you and Miss Patsy. We hear nothing of 
Mrs. Trist, since her arrival at the Falls of the Ohio, on her 
way to N. Orleans. There is no doubt that she proceeded 
down the river thence, unapprized of her loss. When and how 
she will be able to get back, since the Spaniards have shut all 

17&4. LETTERS. 101 

their ports against the U. S., is uncertain, and gives much 
anxiety to her friends. Browse has a windfall from his grand 
mother of 1,000 sterling. 

Present my regards to Miss Patsy and to Mr. Short, if he 
should be with you, and accept yourself, Dear Sir, the sincerest 
affection of 

Your friend and servant. 


NEW YORK, Sept r 15th, 1784. 

DEAR Sin, In pursuance of my intentions, as explained in 
my last, dated in Philadelphia, I came to this City on Saturday 
last. The information I have here received convinces me that 
I cannot accomplish the whole route I had planned within the 
time to which I am limited, nor go from this to Boston in the 
mode which I had reckoned upon. I shall therefore decline 
this part of my plan, at least for the present, and content my 
self with a trip to Fort Schuyler, in which I shall gratify my 
curiosity in several respects, and have the pleasure of the Mar 
quis s company. We shall set off this afternoon in a Barge up 
the Xorth River. The Marquis has received in this City a 
continuation of those marks of cordial esteem and affection 
which were hinted in my last. The Gazettes herewith enclosed 
will give you samples of them. Besides the personal homage 
he receives, his presence has furnished occasion for fresh mani 
festations of those sentiments towards France which have been 
so well merited by her, but which her Enemies pretended would 
soon give way to returning affection for G. Britain. In this 
view, a republication of those passages in the Gazettes of France 
may be of advantage to us. They will at least give pleasure 
to the Friends of the Marquis. 

We have an account from Canada, how far to be relied on I 
cannot say, that the Indians have surprised and plundered Micli- 
illimackinac, where the English had a great amount of Stores 

102 WOEKS OF MADISON. 1734. 

and Merchandize, and that they have refused to treat with Sir 
John Johnson. 


The Marquis has shewn me a passage in his letter to the 
Count de Vergennes, in which he sketches the idea relative to 
the Mississippi. He says he has not had time to dilate upon it, 
but that his next letter will do it fully. 


NEW YORK, October llth, 1784. 

DEAR SIR, My last, dated from this place on the 15th ultimo, 
informed you of my projected trip to Fort Schuyler. I am this 
moment arrived so far on my return to Virginia. My past de 
lay requires so much hurry now, that I can only drop a few 
lines for the packet which is to sail on the 15th instant. The 
Marquis and myself were overtaken at Albany by Mr. de Mar- 
bois, on the same errand with ourselves. We reached Fort 
Schuyler on the 29th, and on the next day paid a visit to the 
Oneida Nation, 18 miles distant. The Commissioners did not 
get up till the Saturday following. We found a small portion 
only of the six nations assembled; nor was the number much 
increased when we quitted the scene of business. Accounts, 
however, had come of deputies from more distant tribes being 
on the way. The Marquis was received by the Indians with 
equal proofs of attachment as have been shewn him elsewhere 
in America. This personal attachment, with their supposed 
predilection for his nation, and the reports propagated among 
them that the Alliance between France and the United States 
was transient only, led him, with the sanction of the Commis 
sioners, to deliver a Speech to the Indian Chiefs, coinciding with 
the object of the Treaty. The answers were very favorable in 
their general tenor. Copies of both will be sent to Mon?.. de 
Vcrgcnnes and the M. de Castries, by Mr. Marbois, and bo 
within the reach of your curiosity. The originals were so much 

1784. LETTERS. 10? 

appropriated to this use during my stay with the Marquis, that 
I had no opportunity of providing copies for you. 

What the upshot of the Treaty will be is uncertain. The 
possession of the posts of Niagara, &c., by the British is a very 
inauspicious circumstance. Another is, that we are not likely 
to make a figure otherwise that will impress a high idea of em 
power or opulence. These obstacles will be rendered much 
more embarrassing by the instructions to the Commissioners, 
which, I am told, leave no space for negociation or concession, 
and will consequently oblige them, in case of refusal in the In 
dians to yield the ultimate hopes of Congress, to break up the 
Treaty. But what will be the consequence of such an emer 
gency? Can they grant a peace without cessions of territory; or 
if they do, must not some other price hereafter purchase them ? 
A Truce has never, I believe, been introduced with the Savages, 
nor do I suppose that any provision has been made by Congress 
for such a contingency. 

The perseverance of the British in retaining the posts pro 
duces various conjectures. Some suppose it is meant to enforce 
a fulfilment of the Treaty of peace on our part. This interpre 
tation is said to have been thrown out on the other side. Others, 
that it is a salve for the wound given the Savages, who are 
made to believe that the posts will not be given up till good 
terms shall be granted them by Congress. Others, that it is 
the effect merely of omission in the British Government to send 
orders. Others, that it is meant to fix the fur trade in the 
British channel, and it is even said that the Government of 
Canada has a personal interest in securing a monopoly of at 
least the crop of this season. I am informed by a person just 
from Michilimackinac that this will be greater than it has been 
for several seasons past, or perhaps any preceding season, and 
that no part of it is allowed by the British Commanders to be 
brought through the United States. From the same quarter I 
learn that the posts have been lately well provisioned for the 
winter, and that reliefs, if not reinforcements, of the garrisons 
will take place. Col. Monroe had passed Oswego when last 
heard of, and was likely to execute his plan. If I have time 

104 WORKS OF MADISON. 1731. 

and opportunity I will write again from Philadelphia, for 
which I set out immediately; if not, from Richmond. The Mar 
quis proceeded from Albany to Boston, from whence he will go, 
via Rhode Island, to Virginia, and be at the Assembly. Thence 
he returns into the Northern States to embark for Europe. 


PHILADELPHIA, October 17th, 1784. 

DEAR SIR, On my arrival here I found that Mr. Short had 
passed through on his way to New York, and was there at the 
date of my last. I regret much that I missed the pleasure of 
seeing him. The inclosed was put into my hands by Mrs. House, 
who received it after he left Philadelphia. My two last, neither 
of which were in cypher, were written, as will be all future 
ones in the same situation, in expectation of their being read 
by postmasters. I am well assured that this is the fate of all 
letters, at least to and from public persons, not only in France 
but all the other Countries of Europe. Having now the use of 
my cypher, I can write without restraint. 

In my last I gave you a sketch of what passed at Fort Schuy- 
ler during my stay there; mentioning in particular that the 
Marquis had made a speech to the Indians, with the sanction 
of the Commissioners, Wolcot, Lee, and Butler. The question 
will probably occur how a foreigner, and a private one, could 
appear on the theatre of a public Treaty between the United 
States and the Indian nations, and how the Commissioners 
could lend a sanction to it. Instead of offering an opinion of 
the measure, I will state the manner in which it was brought 
about. It seems that most of the Indian tribes, particularly 
those of the Iroquois, retain a strong predilection for the French, 
and most of the latter an enthusiastic idea of the Marquis. 
This idea has resulted from his being a Frenchman, the figure 
he has made during the war, and the arrival of several impor 
tant events which he foretold to them soon after he came to this 
country. Before he went to Fort Schuyler, it had been sug- 

1784. LETTERS. 105 

gested, either in compliment or sincerity, that his presence and 
influence might be of material service to the treaty. At Albany, 
the same thing had been said to him by General Wolcot. On 
his arrival at Fort Schuyler, Mr. Kirkland recommended an 
exertion of his influence as of essential consequence to the treaty, 
painting in the strongest colours the attachment of the Indians 
to his person, which seemed indeed to be verified by their 
caresses, and the artifices employed by the British partizans to 
frustrate the objects of the treaty, among which was a pretext 
that the alliance between the United States and France was 
insincere and transitory, and, consequently, the respect of the 
Indians for the latter ought to be no motive for their respecting 
the former. Upon these circumstances, the Marquis grounded a 
written message to the Commissioners before they got up, inti 
mating his disposition to render the United States any service 
his small influence over the Indians might put in his power, and 
desiring to know what the Commissioners would chuse him to 
say. The answer, in Mr. Lee s hand, consisted of polite ac 
knowledgments, and information that the Commissioners would 
be happy in affording him an opportunity of saying whatever 
he- might wish, forbearing to advise or suggest what it would 
be best for him to say. The Marquis perceived the caution, 
but imputed it to Lee alone. 

As his stay was to be very short, it was necessary for him to 
take provisional measures before the arrival of the Commis 
sioners, and particularly for calling in the Oneida Chiefs, who 
were at their town. It fell to my lot to be consulted in his 
dilemma. My advice was, that he should invite the Chiefs in 
such a way as would give him an opportunity of addressing 
them publicly, if on a personal interview with the Commission 
ers it should be judged expedient, or of satisfying their expec 
tations with a friendly entertainment in return for the civilities 
his visit to their town had met with. This advice was ap 
proved; but the Indians brought with them such ideas of his 
importance as no private reception would probably have been 
equal to. When the Commissioners arrived, the Marquis con 
sulted them in person. They were reserved; he was embar- 


rassed. Finally, they changed their plan, and concurred explicit 
ly in his making a Speech in form. He accordingly prepared 
one, communicated it to the Commissioners, and publickly pro 
nounced it, the Commissioners premising such an one as was 
thought proper to introduce his. The answer of the Sachems, 
as well as the circumstances of the audience, denoted the high 
est reverence for the orator. The Chief of the Oneidas said 
that the word which he had spoken to them early in the war 
had prevented them from being misled to the wrong side of it. 

During this scene, and even during the whole stay of the Mar 
quis, he was the only conspicuous figure. The Commissioners 
were eclipsed. All of them probably felt it. Lee complained 
to me of the immoderate stress laid on the influence of the Mar 
quis, and evidently promoted his departure. The Marquis was 
not insensible of it, but consoled himself with the service which 
he thought the Indian Speech would witness that he had ren 
dered to the United States. I am persuaded that the transac 
tion is also pleasing to him in another view, as it will form a 
bright column in the Gazettes of Europe. As it is blended 
with the proceedings of the Commissioners, it will probably not 
be published in America very soon. 

The time I have lately passed with the Marquis has given me 
a pretty thorough insight into his character. With great nat 
ural frankness of temper, he unites much address and very con 
siderable talents. In his politics, he says his three hobby-horses 
are the alliance between France and the United States, the 
union of the latter, and the manumission of the Slaves. The 
two former are the dearer to him, as they are connected with 
his personal glory. The last does him real honor, as it is a 
proof of his humanity. In a word, I take him to be as amiable 
a man as can be imagined, and as sincere an American as any 
Frenchman can be; one whose past services gratitude obliges 
us to acknowledge, and whose future friendship prudence re 
quires us to cultivate. 

The Committee of the States have never reassembled. The 
case of Longchamps has been left both by the Legislative and 
Executive of this State to its Judiciary course. He is sentenced 

1784. LETTERS. 107 

to a fine of 100 crowns, to two years 7 imprisonment, and security 
for good behaviour for seven years. On tuesday morning I set 
off for Richmond, where I ought to be to-morrow, but some de 
lays have put it out of my power. 

The ramble I have taken has rather inflamed than extin 
guished my curiosity to see the Northern and N. W. Country. 
If circumstances be favorable, I may probably resume it next 
summer. Present my compliments to Miss Patsy, for whom, as 
well as yourself, Mrs. House charges me with hers. She has 
lately had a letter from poor Mrs. Trist, every syllable of which 
is the language of affection itself. She had arrived safe at the 
habitation of her deceased Husband, but will not be able to 
leave that country till the spring, at the nearest. The only 
happiness she says she is capable of, is to receive proofs that her 
friends have not forgotten her. I do not learn what is likely 
to be the amount of the effects left by Mr. T.; former accounts 
varied from 6 to 10,000 dollars. 

I am, my dear Sir, yours very affect 6 7 . 


RICHMOND, November , 1784. 

DEAR SIR, Your favor without date was brought by thurs- 
day s post. It inclosed a cypher, for which I thank you, and 
which I shall make use of as occasion may require, though, from 
the nature of our respective situations, its chief value will be 
derived from your use of it. General Washington arrived here 
on Sunday last, and the Marquis on thursday. The latter came 
from Boston in a French frigate. They have both been ad 
dressed and entertained in the best manner that circumstances 
would admit. These attentions, and the balloting for public 
offices, have consumed the greatest part of the past week. Mr. 
Jones is put into the place of Mr. Short; Mr. Roane and Mr. M. 
Selden are to go into those of Mr. M. Smith and Col. Chris 
tian, who are the victims to that part of the Constitution which 

108 WORKS OF MADISON. 1784. 

directs a triennial purgation of the Council. The vote is not 
to take effect till the Spring, but was made now in consequence 
of the discontinuance of the spring session. The rejected Candi 
dates were Col. Bland, Cyrus Griffin, G. Webb, W. C. Nicholas, 
Mr. Breckenridge, Col. Carrington. The latter was within one 
vote of Mr. Selden; Col. B., Mr. N., and Mr. B., had, as nearly 
as I recollect, between 20 and 30 votes; Mr. G. & Mr. W. 
very few. Mr. H. Innes, late Judge of the Kentucky Court, 
is to succeed Walker Daniel, late Attorney General, in that 
District. His competitor was Mr. Stuart, who was about 15 
votes behind. 

I am, dear sir, your s sincerely. 


RICHMOND, November 14th, 1784. 

DEAR SIR, I had intended by this post to commence our 
correspondence with a narrative of what has been done and is 
proposed to be done at the present Session of the General As 
sembly, but, by your last letter to Mr. Jones, I find that it is 
very uncertain whether this will get to Trenton before you leave 
it for Virginia. I cannot, however, postpone my congratula 
tions on your critical escape from the danger which lay in am 
bush for you, and your safe return to Trenton. My ramble ex 
tended neither into the dangers nor gratifications of yours. It 
was made extremely pleasing by sundry circumstances, but 
would have been more so, I assure you, Sir, if we had been eo- 
temporarys in the route we both passed. 

The Indians begin to be unquiet, we hear, both on the North 
West and South East sides of the Ohio. The Spaniards are 
charged with spurring on the latter. As means of obviating 
the dangers, the House of Delegates have resolved to authorize 
the Executive to suspend the surveying of land within the un- 
purchased limits, and to instruct the Delegation to urge in Con 
gress Treaties with the Southern Indians, and negociations 

1781. LETTERS. 109 

with Spain touching the Mississippi. They also propose to set 
on foot surveys of Potowmac and James Rivers, from their falls 
to their sources. But their principal attention has been, and is 
still, occupied with a scheme proposed for a General Assess 
ment; 47 have carried it against 32. In its present form it ex 
cludes all but Christian sects. The Presbyterian Clergy have 
remonstrated against any narrow principles, but indirectly favor 
a more comprehensive establishment. I think the bottom will 
be enlarged, and that a trial will be made of the practicability 
of the project. The successor to Mr. Harrison is not yet ap 
pointed or nominated. It is in the option of Mr. Henry, and I 
fancy he will not decline the service. There will be three va 
cancies in the Council, for which no nominations have been 
made. Mr. C. Griffith will probably be named, and Mr. W. 
Nicholas. Mr. Roane is also spoken of. 
I am, dear sir, your s sincerely. 


RICHMOND, Nov* 27th, 1784. 

DEAR SIR, Your favor of the 15th instant came to hand by 
thursday s post. Mine by the last post acknowledged your pre 
ceding one. The umbrage given to the Commissioners of the 
United States by the negociations of New York with the In 
dians was not altogether unknown to me, though I am less ac 
quainted with the circumstances of it than your letter supposes. 
The idea which I at present have of the affair leads me to say, 
that as far as New York may claim a right of treating with In 
dians for the purchase of lands within her limits, she has the 
Confederation on her side; as far as she may have exerted that 
right in contravention of the General Treaty, or even unconfi- 
dentially with the Commissioners of Congress, she has violated 
both duty and decorum. The federal Articles give Congress the 
exclusive right of managing all affairs with the Indians not mem- 


lers of any State, under a proviso, that the Legislative authority 
of the State within its own limits be not violated. By Indians 
not members of a State, must be meant those, I conceive, who 
do not live within the body of the Society, or whose persons or 
property form no objects of its laws. In the case of Indians of 
this description, the only restraint on Congress is imposed by 
the Legislative authority of the State. 

If this proviso be taken in its full latitude, it must destroy 
the authority of Congress altogether, since no act of Congress 
within the limits of a State can be conceived which will not in 
some way or other encroach upon the authority of the State. 
In order, then, to give some meaning to both parts of the sen 
tence, as a known rule of interpretation requires, we must re 
strain this proviso to some particular view of the parties. What 
was this view ? My answer is, that it was to save to the States 
their right of pre-emption of lands from the Indians. My rea 
sons are: 1. That this was the principal right formerly exerted 
by the Colonies with regard to the Indians. 2. That it was a 
right asserted by the laws as well as the proceedings of all of 
them, and therefore, being most familiar, would be most likely 
to be in contemplation of the parties. 3. That being of most 
consequence to the States individually, and least inconsistent 
with the general powers of Congress, it was most likely to be 
made a ground of compromise. 4. It has been always said that 
the proviso came from the Virginia Delegates, who would nat 
urally be most vigilant over the territorial rights of their con 
stituents. But whatever may be the true boundary between 
the authority of Congress and that of New York, or however 
indiscreet the latter may have been, I join entirely with you in 
thinking that temperance on the part of the former will be the 
wisest policy. 

I concur with you equally with regard to the ignominious 
secession at Annapolis. As Congress are too impotent to pun 
ish such offences, the task must finally be left to the States, and 
experience has shewn, in the case of Howell, that the interposi 
tion of Congress against an offender, instead of promoting his 

17,94. LETTERS. HI 

chastisement, may give him a significaney which he otherwise 
would never arrive at, and may induce a State to patronize an 
act which of their own accord they would have punished. 

I am sorry to find the affair of Mr. de Marbois taking so se 
rious a face. As the insult was committed within the jurisdic 
tion of Pennsylvania, I think you are right in supposing the 
offender could not be transferred to another jurisdiction for 
punishment. The proper questions, therefore, are: 1. Whether 
the existing law was fully put in force against him by Pennsyl 
vania? 2. Whether due provision has been made by that State 
against like contingencies ? Nothing seems to be more difficult 
under our new Governments than to impress on the attention 
of our Legislatures a due sense of those duties which spring 
from our relation to foreign nations. 

Several of us have been labouring much of late in the General 
Assembly here to provide for a case with which we are every 
day threatened by the eagerness of our disorderly citizens for 
Spanish plunder and Spanish blood. It has been proposed to 
authorise Congress, whenever satisfactory proof shall be given 
to them by a foreign power of such a crime being committed by 
our citizens within its jurisdiction as by the law of Nations calls 
for a surrender of the offender, and the foreign power shall 
actually make the demand, [to require his surrender from the 
Executive of the State,] and that the Executive may, at the in 
stance of Congress, apprehend and deliver up the offender. 
That there are offences of that class is clearly stated by Vattel 
in particular, and that the business ought to pass through Con 
gress is equally clear. The proposition was a few days ago 
rejected in Committee of the whole. To-day, on the report of 
the Committee, it has been agreed to by a small majority. This 
is the most material question that has agitated us during the 
week past. 

The Bill for a Religious Assessment has not been yet brought 
in. Mr. Henry, the father of the scheme, is gone up to his seat 
for his family, and will no more sit in the House of Delegates 
a circumstance very inauspicious to his offspring. An attempt 


will be made for Circuit Courts, and Mr. Jones has it in contem 
plation to try whether any change has taken place in the senti 
ments of the House of Delegates on the subject of the Treaty. 
He will write to you by this post, and I refer to him for what I 
may have omitted. 

With sincere regard and esteem, I am. dear sir, your friend 
and serv 1 . 


RICHMOND, Nov r 27th, 1784. 

HON D SIR, Having a moment s time to drop you a line, I in 
form you that the Bill for confirming surveys against subsequent 
entries has been negatived by a large majority, rather on the 
principle that it was unnecessary and retrospective than that 
it was unjust in itself. On the contrary, all the principal gen 
tlemen were of opinion that it was just, but already provided for 
by the law. Mr. limes, the late Judge of the Kentucky Court, 
in particular, told me he thought such surveys could not be 
overset. You will have heard of the vote in favor of the Gen 
eral Assessment. The bill is not yet brought in, and I question 
whether it will; or if so, whether it will pass. This day a vote 
passed without a dissent for Circuit Courts. What opposition 
may be made to its passage I know not. 


RICHMOND, December 4th, 1784. 

DEAR SIR, On Saturday last a proposition was agreed to 
for establishing Circuit Courts throughout this Commonwealth, 
and yesterday a bill for that purpose was reported. On Wednes 
day next it will undergo a discussion of the Committee of 
the whole. The circumstances under which it has passed thus 

1784. LETTERS. 113 

far seem to promise a favorable issue, but the dangers which it 
is yet to go through are formidable. They proceed from latent 
and interested objections, which have on several former occa 
sions proved fatal to similar attempts. The plan is pretty 
analogous to the Nisi prius established in England. 

On Tuesday, sundry propositions were made by Mr. Jones 
in favor of the 4th Article of the Treaty of peace. They passed 
by a large majority, with blanks as to the length of time to be 
given for the payment of the principal, and for disallowing the 
interest. The former was filled up with seven years, in prefer 
ence to 10, 8, 6, and 5, which were contended for on different 
sides. The latter, with the period between April 19th, 1775, 
and March 3d, 1783, in preference to the period between the 
first date and May, 1784, the date of the exchange of ratifica 
tions. The bill will probably pass, but not, I fear, without some 
improper ingredients, and particularly some conditions relative 
to the North Western posts, or the Negroes, which lye without 
our province. 

The bill for the Religious Assessment was reported yesterday, 
and will be taken up in a Committee of the whole next week. 
Its friends are much disheartened at the loss of Mr. Henry. 
Its fate is, I think, very uncertain. Another Act of the House 
of Delegates during the present week is a direction to the Exec 
utive to carry into effect the vote of a Bust to [of?] the Marquis 
de Lafayette, to be presented to the City of Paris, and to cause 
another to be procured to be set up in tins Country. These 
resolutions are so contrived as to hide as much as possible the 
circumstance in the original vote of the bust being to be pre 
sented to the Marquis himself. I find by a letter from General 
Washington that he was on the 28 ult. just setting out to 
accompany the Marquis to Annapolis, and thence to Baltimore. 
The latter may therefore soon be expected at Trenton. He 
has been much caressed here, as well as everywhere else on his 
Tour, and I make no doubt he will leave Congress with equal 
reason to be pleased with his visit. I meant to have sent you 
a copy of the Resolutions touching the Busts, but have been 
disappointed in getting one. They were offered by Mr. Jones, 

VOL. i. 8 


and agreed to unanimously, as they no doubt will also be in the 

Wishing you all happiness, I aui, dear sir, your s sincerely. 


RICHMOND, December 17th, 1784. 

DEAR SIR- * * * * * 

Our progress in the Revisal has been stopped by the waste 
of time produced by the inveterate and prolix opposition of its 
adversaries, and the approach of Christmas. The Bill propor 
tioning crimes and punishments was the one at which we stuck, 
after wading through the most difficult parts of it. A few sub 
sequent bills, however, were excepted from the postponement. 
Among these was the Bill for establishing Religious freedom, 
which has got through the House of Delegates without altera 
tion, though not without warm opposition. Mr. Mercer and 
Mr. Corbin were the principal Combatants against it. 

Mr. Jones is well. 

With sincerity, I am, your affectionate friend. 


RICHMOND, December 24th, 1784. 

DEAR SIR, Your favor of the 14th instant came to hand on 
thursday. A proposition was made a few days ago for this 
State to empower Congress to carry into effect the imposts, as 
soon as twelve States should make themselves parties to it. It 
was rejected on the following grounds: 1. That it would pre 
sent a disagreeable aspect of our affairs to foreign Nations. 2. 
That it might lead to other combinations of lesser numbers of 
the States. 3. That it would render Rhode Island an inlet for 
clandestine trade. 4. That it would sour her temper still 

1784. LETTERS. 115 

further, at a crisis when her concurrence in some general and 
radical amendment of the Confederation may be invited by 
Congress. 5. That the chance is almost infinitely against a 
union of twelve States on such new ground, and consequently 
the experiment would be only a fresh display of the jarring 
policy of the States, and afford a fresh triumph and irritation 
to Rhode Island. 

The act empowering Congress to surrender Citizens of this 
State to the Sovereign demanding them, for certain crimes com 
mitted within his jurisdiction, has passed. Congress are to 
judge whether the crimes be such as according to the Law of 
Nations warrant such demand, as well as whether the fact be 
duly proven. Concurrent provision is made for punishing such 
offences by our own laws, in case no such demand be made to 
or be not admitted by Congress, and legal proof can be had. 
The latter law extends to offences against the Indians. As 
these tribes do not observe the law of Nations, it was supposed 
neither necessary nor proper to give up citizens to them. The 
act is not suspended on the concurrence of any other State, it 
being judged favorable to the interest of this though no other 
should follow the example, and a fit branch of the federal pre 
rogative. The Bill for Assize Courts has passed the Senate 
without any material amendment, is enrolled, and waits only to 
be examined by the Committee and signed by the Speakers. 
The General Assessment, on the question for engrossing it, was 
yesterday carried by 44 against 42. To-day its third reading 
was put off till November next, by 45 against 37, or there 
abouts, and it is to be printed for consideration of the people. 
Much business is still on the table, but we shall probably rise 
about New-year s day. 

I am, dear sir, with sincere regard, your friend and serv*. 


[Notes of speech made by Mr. Madison in the House of Delegates of Virginia, 
at the autumnal session of 1784, in opposition to the General assessment Bill for 
support 01 Religious teachers:] 

I. Rel. not within purview of civil authority. 

Tendency of estab 8 Xnty. 1. To project of uniformity. 2. 
To penal laws for support 15 it. 

Progress of Gen 1 Asses 1 proves this tendency. 
Difference between establish 8 and tolerating error. 
True question not, Is Relig. necess 7 ? but 

II. Are Rel. Estab ts necess 7 for religion ? No. 

1. Propensity of man to Religion. 

2. Experience shews relig. corrupted by Estab* 8 . 

3. Downfall of States mentioned by Mr. Henry happened 
where there was estab*. 

4. Experience gives no model of Gen 1 Assess*. 

5. Case of Pa. explained; not solitary; N. J. See Const n of 
it; R. I, N. J., D. 

6. Case of primitive Xnty; of reformation; of Dissenters for 

7. Progress of Religious liberty. 

III. Policy. 

1. Promote emigrations from State. 

2. Prevent immigration into it, as asylum. 

IV. Necessity of Estab* inferred from state of country; true 
causes of disease. 

1. War. ) Common to other States, and produce same 

2. Bad laws. ) complaints in N. E. 

3. Pretext from taxes. 

4. State of Administration of justice. 

5. Transition from old to new plan. 

6. Policy and hopes of friends to G 1 Assess*. 
True remedies: Not Estab 1 . but bring out of war. 

1. Laws to cherish virtue. 

2. Administration of justice. 

3. Personal example. Associations for Rel. 

4. By present vote cut off hope of Gen. Assess*. 

1784. LETTERS. 117 

5. Education of youth. 

V. Probable defects of Bill when prepared. 
What is Xnty ? courts of law to decide. 

Is it Trinitarianisra, arianism, socinianism ? Is it salvation by 
faith, or works also? <fec., &c., &c. 

Ends in what is orthodoxy, what Heresy. 

VI. Dishonors Christianity. 
Panegyric on it, on our side. 
Decla n of Rights. 


RICHMOND. 25 Dec., 1784. 

DEAR SIR, Be pleased to accept my congratulations on the 
event which has given to your talents a station in which they 
cannot fail to be equally useful to the public and honorable to 
yourself.* I offer them with the greater pleasure, too, as such 
an event is a proof that Congress have unfettered themselves 
from a rule which threatened to exclude merit from a choice in 
which merit only ought to prevail. 

The assize Bill has, since my last, past into a law. The Sen 
ate made no material change in it, but gave an almost unani 
mous suffrage to it. The only hesitation with them was between 
that plan and another, which would have rendered the circuit 
courts independent of the general court. The former, which 
follows the English model, unites the advantages of a trial of 
facts, where facts can be ascertained with greatest certainty and 
cheapness, with a decision of law, where such decision can be 
made with most wisdom and uniformity. The advantage of the 
latter consisted in removing the inconveniency of making up 
the issues and awarding the judgments in the general court, 
which it was supposed would increase expense, if not delay, and 
particularly require the service of a double number of lawyers. 
Experience will probably shew that the latter supposition is 
exaggerated, and that the system preferred is at least the best 

to begin with. 

Mr. Lee had just been elected President of Congress. 


The general assessment bill was ordered to be engrossed by 
forty-four against forty-two, and has since, by forty-five against 
thirty-seven, been postponed till November next, and is to be 
printed for immediate consideration. An act incorporating the 
Episcopal church has passed in a form less offensive than the 
one proposed at the last Session. The Bill for payment of Brit 
ish debts was under debate yesterday; its passage seems prob 
able, but there is reason to fear that attempts will yet be made 
to trammel it. It still takes seven years for payment, though 
the Glasgow merchants have signified their assent to four years. 
The merchants of this town and Petersburg have remonstrated 
against the idea of giving the British merchants a summary re 
covery at the periods of the instalments. The Bill for opening 
the Potowmac is suspended on the result of a conference. Gen 
eral Washington. General Gates, and Colonel Blackburn, are 
commissioned to hold conferences with Maryland on the sub 
ject. A Bill for opening James River, on a different plan, has 
passed the House of Delegates. A Bill will also probably 
pass for surveying the waters of those two rivers to their 
sources, the country between them and the western waters, and 
the latter down to the Ohio. It will also probably provide for 
a survey of the different routes for a communication between 
the waters of Elizabeth River and those of North Carolina. 

In the course of last week a proposition was made to em 
power Congress to collect the Impost within this State [Vir 
ginia] as soon as twelve States should unite in the scheme. The 
arguments which prevailed against it were the unfavorable as 
pect it would present to foreigners; the tendency of the example 
to inferior combinations; the field it would open for contraband 
trade; its probable effect on the temper of Rhode Island, which 
might thwart other necessary measures requiring the unanimity 
of the States; the improbability of the union of twelve States 
on this new ground, a failure of which would increase the ap 
pearance of discord in their policy, and give fresh triumph and 
irritation to Rhode Island. 

I have not yet found leisure to scan the project of a Conti 
nental Convention with so close an eye as to have made up any 


observations worthy of being mentioned to you. In general, I 
hold it for a maxim, that the Union of the States is essential to 
their safety against foreign danger and internal contention; 
and that the perpetuity and efficacy of the present system can 
not be confided in. The question therefore is, in what mode 
and at what moment the experiment for supplying the defects 
ought to be made. The answer to this question cannot be given 
without a knowledge greater than I possess of the temper and 
views of the different States. Virginia seems, I think, to have 
excellent dispositions towards the Confederacy, but her assent 
or dissent to such a proposition would probably depend on the 
chance of its having no opponent capable of rousing the preju 
dices and jealousies of the Assembly against innovations, par 
ticularly such as will derogate from their own power and im 
portance. Should a view of the other States present no objec 
tions against the experiment, individually, I would wish none 
to be presupposed here. 

With great esteem and regard, I am, dear sir, your obt and 
hum. serv 1 . 


RICHMOND, January 1, 1785. 

DEAR SIR, I was yesterday honored with yours of the 28th 
ultimo, accompanying the Report of the Conferees, <fcc., &c. 
The latter has been laid before the House of Delegates, and a 
committee appointed to report a Bill and Resolutions corres 
ponding with those of Maryland. The only danger of miscar 
riage arises from the impatience of the members to depart, and 
the bare competency of the present number. By great efforts 
only they have been detained thus long. I am not without 
hopes, however, that the business of the Potowmac at least will 
be provided for before the adjournment, and some provision now 
depending be compleated in favor of James River. Before the 
receipt of your dispatches a Bill had been passed by the House 


of Delegates for surveying the former as well as the latter river, 
on a plan which we shall endeavour, by concert with the Sen 
ate, to accommodate to the provisions of Maryland. A Reso 
lution has passed both Houses instructing the Commissioners, 
appointed in June last to settle with Maryland Commissioners 
the jurisdiction of the Potowmac, to join in a representation to 
Pennsylvania on the subject of the waters of the Ohio within her 
limits. This instruction ought rather to have been committed to 
the late conference; but when the Commission, under which you 
attended it, passed, I was confined to my room, and it did not 
occur to any other member. And, indeed, if I had been well, the 
haste which necessarily prevailed might have precluded me from 
comprehending the object within your mission, especially as I 
had not previously digested my ideas on the subject, nor accu 
rately examined the text of the Confederation. It were to be 
wished too, I think, that the application to Pennsylvania on the 
subject of the road could have been blended with that of the 
River. As it is, it will, I think, be best to refer it, after the 
example of Maryland, to the Executive. I beg you, Sir, to ex 
cuse the brevity which our hurry has imposed upon me. As 
soon as I have leisure, I will endeavour to make amends by a 
fuller communication on this subject. 


RICHMOND, 8th January. 1785. 

DEAR SIR, Yours of the 18th ultimo came to hand yester 
day. The view which it gives of the operations of the Cabinet 
portends, I fear, a revival of those intrigues and contests of 
ambition which have more than once distracted and dishonoured 
the National Councils. Foreign appointments have generally 
been the parents of those mischiefs, and ought for that reason, 
when no other reasons oppose, to be rendered as unfrcquent as 
may be. 

The union between R. H. Lee and R. R. Livingston* would 

* On the appointment of Mr. Jefferson to the Court of Spain. 

17S5. LETTERS. 121 

have been among the last of my predictions, nor can I fathom 
the principle on which it is founded. 

The policy of healing the variance between the United States 
and Great Britain is no doubt obvious; but I cannot enter into 
the suspicions entertained of hostile designs in the latter. Her 
internal situation renders them extremely improbable, and the 
affairs of Ireland, as I conceive, absolutely incredible. What 
could she hope for or aim at ? If the late war was folly, a new 
one for the same object would be downright phrensy. Her ill- 
humour is the natural consequence of disappointed and disarmed 
ambition, and her disregard of the Treaty may, if not be justi 
fied, at least be accounted for by what has passed in the United 
States. Let both parties do what neither can deny its obliga 
tion to do, and the difficulty is at an end. 

The contest with Spain has a more dangerous root. Not 
only the supposed interests, but the supposed rights of the par 
ties are in direct opposition. I hope, however, that both par 
ties will ponder the consequences before they suffer amicable 
negociation to become abortive. The use of the Mississippi is 
given by nature to our Western Country, and no power on 
Earth can take it from them. Whilst we assert our title to it, 
therefore, with a becoming firmness, let us not forget that we 
cannot ultimately be deprived of it, and that, for the present, 
war is more than all things to be deprecated. Let us weigh 
well, also, the object and the price, not forgetting that the At 
lantic States, &c., &c I join in your wish that we had a 

better Cypher, but Richmond yields as few resources for amend 
ing ours as Trenton. I have not leisure myself, and can com 
mand the assistance of no other person. 

[Here the writer gives the same detail of the circumstances which prevented 
the passage of the Bill respecting British debts as is contained in his letter of the 
following day to Mr. Jefferson.] 

It was unlucky that one of the two Bills thus lost should be 
that which will be most likely to involve our public character. 
Before this accident, we had passed the Bill for opening the 

122 WORKS OF MADISON. 1783. 

Potomac and a similar one for James River, together with a 
third, presenting to Gen 1 Washington a handsome portion of 
shares in each of the companies, and had taken some other 
measures for opening the commercial channel to the Western 
Waters. As I shall not be in Richmond to receive any letters 
which may be written hereafter, you will be so good as to ad 
dress your future favors to Orange. 
I am, dear sir, with sincerity, your friend and servant. 


RICHMOND, January 9th, 1785. 

DEAR SIR, My last was dated in Philadelphia, October 17th. 
I reached this place on the 14th day after that fixed for the 
meeting of the Assembly, and was in time for the commence 
ment of business. Yesterday put an end to the tedious session. 
According to my promise, I subjoin a brief review of its most 
material proceedings. 

This act was carried through the House 

An act for the estab 
lishment of Courts of of Delegates against much secret repug 
nance, but without any direct and open op 
position. It luckily happened that the latent opposition wanted 
both a mouth and a head. Mr. Henry had been previously 
elected Governor, and was gone for his family. From his con 
versation since, I surmise that his presence might have been 
fatal. The act is formed precisely on the English pattern, and 
is nearly a transcript from the bill originally penned in 1776 
by Mr. Pendleton, except that writs sent blank from the Clerk 
of General Court are to issue in the district, but returned to 
General Court. In the Senate it became a consideration whether 
the Assize Courts ought not to be turned into so many Courts 
of independent and complete jurisdiction, and admitting an 
appeal only to the Court of Appeals. If the fear of endanger 
ing the bill had not checked the experiment, such a proposition 
would probably have been sent down to the House of Delegates, 

1785. LETTERS 123 

where it would have been better relished by many than the 
Assize plan. The objections made to the latter were, that as it 
required the issues to be made up and the judgments to be 
awarded in the General Court, it was but a partial relief to 
suitors, and might render the service of double sets of lawyers 
necessary. The friends of the plan thought these inconveni 
ences, as far as they were real, outweighed by the superior 
wisdom and uniformity of decisions incident to the plan; not to 
mention the difference in the frequency of appeals incident to 
the different plans. In order to leave as few handles as possi 
ble for cavil, the bill omitted all the little regulations which 
would follow of course, and will therefore need a supplement. 
To give time for this provision, as well as by way of collecting 
the mind of the public, the commencement of the law is made 
posterior to the next session of assembly. The places fixed for 
the Assize Courts are Northumberland Court House, Willianis- 
burg, Accomack Court House, Suffolk, Richmond, Petersburg, 
Brunswick Court House, King and Queen Court House, Prince 
Edward Court House, Bedford Court House, Montgomery and 
Washington C* Houses alternately, Staunton, Charlottesville, 
Fredericksburg, Dumfries, Winchester, and Monongalia Court 
House. Besides the judicial advantages hoped from this inno 
vation, we consider it as a means of reconciling to our Govern 
ment the discontented extremities of the State. 

The subject of clearing these great riv- 

An act for opening . 

and extending the navi- ers was brought lorward early in the bes- 
gationofPotowmacriv- sioilj undcr the ausp i ces O f General Wash- 
An act for do. do. of ington, who had written an interesting pri 
vate letter on it to Governor Harrison, 
which the latter communicated to the General Assembly. The 
conversation of the General, during a visit paid to Richmond 
in the course of the Session, still further impressed the magni 
tude of the object on sundry members. Shortly after his de 
parture, a joint memorial from a number of Citizens of Virginia 
and Maryland, interested in the Potowmac, was presented to 
the Assembly, stating the practicability and importance of the 
work, and praying for an act of incorporation, and grant of 



perpetual toll to the undertakers of it. A bill had been pre 
pared at the same meeting which produced the memorial, and 
was transmitted to Richmond at the same time. A like memo 
rial and bill went to Annapolis, where the Legislature of Mary 
land were sitting. 

The Assembly here lent a ready ear to the project; but a dif 
ficulty arose from the height of the tolls proposed, the danger 
of destroying the uniformity essential in the proceedings of the 
two States by altering them, and the scarcity of time for nego- 
ciating with Maryland a bill satisfactory to both States. Short 
as the time was, however, the attempt was decided on, and the 
negociation committed to General Washington himself. Gen 
eral Gates, who happened to be in the way, and Col. Blackburn, 
were associated with him. The latter did not act; the two 
former pushed immediately to Annapolis, where the sickness of 
General Gates threw the whole agency on General Washing 
ton. By his exertions, in concert with Committees of the two 
branches of the Legislature, an amendment of the plan was 
digested in a few days, passed through both houses in one day, 
with nine dissenting voices only, and despatched for Richmond, 
where it arrived just in time for the close of the Session. A 
corresponding act was immediately introduced, and passed with 
out opposition. 

The scheme declares that the subscribers shall be an incorpo 
rated body; that there shall be 500 shares, amounting to about 
220,000 dollars, of which the States of Virginia and Maryland 
are each to take 50 shares; that the tolls shall be collected in 
three portions, at the three principal falls, and with the works 
vest as real estate in the members of the Company; and that the 
works shall be begun within one year and finished within ten 
years, under the penalty of entire forfeiture. 

Previous to the receipt of the act from Annapolis, a bill on 
a different plan had been brought in and proceeded on for 
clearing James River. It proposed that subscriptions should 
be taken by Trustees, and, under their management, solemnly 
appropriated to the object in view; that they should be regarded 
as a loan to the State, should bear an interest of 10 per cent., 

1785. LETTERS. 125 

and should entitle the subscriber to the double of the principal 
remaining undischarged at the end of a moderate period; and 
that the tolls to be collected should stand inviolably pledged 
for both principal and interest. It was thought better for the 
public to present this exuberant harvest to the subscribers than 
to grant them a perpetuity in the tolls. In the case of the 
Potowmac, which depended on another authority as well as our 
own, we were less at liberty to consider what would be best in 
itself. Exuberant, however, as the harvest appeared, it was 
pronounced by good judges an inadequate bait for subscriptions, 
even from those otherwise interested in the work, and on the 
arrival and acceptance of the Potowmac plan, it was found 
advisable to pass a similar one in favor of James River. The 
circumstantial variations in the latter are: 1. The sum to be 
aimed at in the first instance is 100,000 Dollars only. 2. The 
shares, which are the same in number with those of Potowmac, 
are reduced to 200 dollars each, and the number of public shares 
raised to 100. 3. The tolls are reduced to half of the aggre 
gate of the Potowmac tolls. 4. In case the falls at this place, 
where alone tolls are to be paid, shall be first opened, the Com 
pany are permitted to receive the tolls immediately, and con 
tinue to do so till the lapse of ten years, within which the whole 
river is to be made navigable. 5. A right of pre-emption is 
reserved to the public on all transfers of shares. These acts 
are very lengthy, and having passed in all the precipitancy 
which marks the concluding stages of a session, abound, I fear, 
with inaccuracies. 

In addition to these acts, joint resolutions have passed the 
Legislatures of Maryland and Virginia for clearing a road from 
the head of the Potowmac navigation to Cheat river, or if 
necessary to Monongalia, and 3, 333^ Dollars are voted for the 
work by each State.* Pennsylvania is also to be applied to by 
the Governors of the two States for leave to clear a road 
through her jurisdiction, if it should be found necessary, from 
Potowmac to Yohogania; to which the Assembly here have 

* Jour., p. 91. 

126 WORKS OF MADISON. 1785. 

added a proposition to unite with Maryland in representing to 
Pennsylvania the advantages which will accrue to a part of her 
citizens from opening the proposed communication with the Sea, 
and the reasonableness of her securing to those who arc to be 
at the expence the use of her waters as a thoroughfare to and 
from the Country beyond her limits, free from all imposts and 
restrictions whatever, and as a channel of trade with her citi 
zens, free from greater imposts than may be levied on any other 
channel of importation.* This Resolution did not pass till it 
was too late to refer it to General Washington s negotiations 
with Maryland. It now makes a part of the task allotted to 
the Commissioners who are to settle with Maryland the juris 
diction and navigation of Potowmac, below tide water. By 
another Resolution of this State, persons are to be forthwith 
appointed by the Executive to survey the upper parts of James 
River, the country through which a road must pass to the navi 
gable waters of New River, and these waters down to the 
Ohio.t I am told by a member of the Assembly, who seems to 
be well acquainted both with the intermediate ground and with 
the western waters in question, that a road of 25 or 30 miles in 
length will link these waters with James River, and will strike 
a branch of the former which yields a fine navigation, and falls 
into the main stream of the Kenhawa below the only obstruc 
tions lying in this river down to the Ohio. If these be facts, 
James River will have a great superiority over Potowmac, the 
road from which to Cheat river is, indeed, computed by General 
Washington at 20 miles only, but he thinks the expence of 
making the latter navigable will require a continuation of the 
road to Monongalia, which will lengthen it to 40 miles. The 
road to Yohogania is computed by the General at 30 miles. 

By another resolution, Commissioners are to be appointed to 
survey the ground for a canal between the waters of Elizabeth 
river and those of North Carolina, and in case the best course 
for such a canal shall require the concurrence of that State, to 
concert a joint plan and report the same to the next session of 

* Jour., p. 101. f Idem, p. 102. 

1785. LETTERS. 127 

Assembly.* Besides the trade which will flow through this 
channel from North Carolina to Norfolk, the large district of 
Virginia watered by the Roanoake will be doubled in its value 
by it. 
An act vesting in G. The Treasurer is by this actf directed 

Washington a certain in- to subscribe 50 shares in the Potowmac 
terest in the Companies 

for opening James and and 100 shares m the James River Com 
panies, which shall vest in General Wash 
ington and his heirs. This mode of adding some substantial to 
the many honorary rewards bestowed on him was deemed least 
injurious to his delicacy, as well as least dangerous as a prece 
dent. It was substituted in place of a direct pension, urged on 
the House by the indiscreet zeal of some of his friends. Though 
it will not be an equivalent succour in all respects, it will save 
the General from subscriptions which would have oppressed his 
finances; and if the schemes be executed within the period fixed, 
may yield a revenue for some years before the term of his. if At 
all events, it will demonstrate the grateful wishes of his Country, 
and will promote the object which he has so much at heart. 
The earnestness with which he espouses the undertaking is 
hardly to be described, and shews that a mind like his, capable 
of great views, and which has long been occupied with them, 
cannot bear a vacancy; and surely he could not have chosen an 
occupation more worthy of succeeding to that of establishing 
the political rights of his Country than the patronage of works 
for the extensive and lasting improvement of its natural advan 
tages; works which will double the value of half the lands 
within the Commonwealth, will extend its commerce, link with 
its interests those of the Western States, and lessen the emigra 
tion of its citizens by enhancing the profitableness of situations 
which they now desert in search of better. 
An act to discharge Our successive postponements had thrown 

the people of this Com- the whole tax of 1784 on the year 1785. 

monwealtb from one . . " 

half of the tax for the The remission, therefore, still leaves three 

year 1785. halves to be collected. The plentiful crops 

* Jour., p. 102. f Jour., p. 105-6-7. J Sic in MS. 


on hand both of Corn and Tobacco, and the price of the latter, 
which is vibrating on this river between 36s. and 40s., seem 
to enable the country to bear the burden. A few more plen 
tiful years, with steadiness in our councils, will put our credit 
on a decent footing. The payments from this State to the 
Continental treasury between April, 1783, and November, 
1784, amount to 123,202 11s. 1-Jd., Virginia currency. The 
printed report herewith inclosed will give you a rude idea of 
our finances. 

J. Rumsey, by a memorial to the last 

An act giving James * J 

Rumsey the exclusive session, represented that he had invented 
I^J& * mechanism by which a boat might be 
tain boats for a limited worked with little labor, at the rate of 
from 25 to 40 miles a day, against a stream 
running at the rate of 10 miles an hour, and prayed that the 
disclosure of his invention might be purchased by the public. 
The apparent extravagance of his pretensions brought a ridi 
cule upon them, and nothing was done. In the recess of the 
Assembly, he exemplified his machinery to General Washington 
and a few other gentlemen, who gave a certificate of the reality 
and importance of the invention, which opened the ears of the 
Assembly to a second memorial. The act gives a monopoly for 
ten years, reserving a right to abolish it at any time by paying 
10,000. The inventor is soliciting similar acts from other 
States, and will not, I suppose, publish the secret till he either 
obtains or despairs of them. 

This act authorises the surrender of a 

An act for punishing ... n . ... . . 

certain offences injuri- citizen to a foreign Sovereign within whose 
thTs Commomv^th 7 f ackno ^ledged jurisdiction the citizen shall 
commit a crime, of which satisfactory proof 
shall be exhibited to Congress, and for which, in the judgment 
of Congress, the law of nations exacts such surrender. This 
measure was suggested by the danger of our being speedily em 
broiled with the nations contiguous to the United States, par 
ticularly the Spaniards, by the licentious and predatory spirit 
of some of our western people. In several instances gross out 
rages are said to have been already practiced. The measure 

1785. LETTERS. 129 

was warmly patronized by Mr. Henry and most of the forensic 
members, and no less warmly opposed by the Speaker and some 
others. The opponents contended that such surrenders were 
unknown to the law of nations, and were interdicted by our 
declaration of rights. Yattel, however, is express as to the 
case of Robbers, murderers, and incendiaries. Grotius quotes 
various instances in which great offenders have been given up 
by their proper Sovereigns to be punished by the offended Sov 
ereigns. Puffendorf only refers to Grotius. I have had no 
opportunity of consulting other authorities. 

With regard to the Bill of rights, it was alledged to be no 
more, or, rather, less violated by considering crimes committed 
against other laws as not falling under the notice of our own, and 
sending our citizens to be tried where the cause of trial arose, 
than to try them under our own laws without a jury of the vicin 
age, and without being confronted with their accusers or wit 
nesses; as must be the case, if they be tried at all for such offences 
under our own laws. And to say that such offenders should 
neither be given up for punishment, nor be punished within their 
own Country, would amount to a licence for every aggression, 
and would sacrifice the peace of the whole community to the 
impunity of the worst members of it. The necessity of a qual 
ified interpretation of the bill of rights was also inferred from 
the law of the Confederacy which requires the surrender of our 
citizens to the laws of other States, in cases of treason, felony, 
or other high misdemesnors. The act provides, however, for a 
domestic trial in cases where a surrender may not be justified 
or insisted upon, and in cases of aggressions on the Indians. 

An act for incorpora- This act Declares the Ministers and Ves- 
ting the Protestant Epis- tries, who are to be triennially chosen in 
each parish, a body corporate, enables them 
to hold property not exceeding the value of 800 per annum, 
and gives sanction to a Convention, which is to be composed of 
the clergy and a lay deputy from each parish, and is to regulate 
the affairs of the Church. It was understood by the House of 
Delegates that the Convention was to consist of two laymen for 

VOL. i. 9 

130 WORKS OF MADISON. 1785. 

each clergyman, and an amendment was received for that ex 
press purpose. It so happened that the insertion of the amend 
ment did not produce that effect, and the mistake was never 
discovered till the bill had passed and was in print. Another 
circumstance still more singular is, that the act is so construed 
as to deprive the vestries of the uncontrolled right of electing 
Clergymen, unless it be referred to them by the canons of the 
Convention, and that this usurpation actually escaped the eye 
both of the friends and adversaries of the measure, both parties 
taking the contrary for granted throughout the whole progress 
of it. The former, as well as the latter, appear now to be dis 
satisfied with what has been done, and will probably concur in 
a revision, if not a repeal of the law. Independently of these 
oversights, the law is in various points of view exceptionable. 
But the necessity of some sort of incorporation for the purpose 
of holding and managing the property of the Church could not 
well be denied, nor a more harmless modification of it now ob 
tained. A negative of the bill, too, would have doubled the 
eagerness and the pretexts for a much greater evil, a general 
Assessment, which, there is good ground to believe, was parried 
by this partial gratification of its warmest votaries. 

A Resolution for a legal provision for the "teachers of th-e 
Christian Religion " had early in the session been proposed by 
Mr. Henry, and, in spite of all the opposition that could be 
mustered, carried by 47 against 32 votes. Many petitions from 
below the blue ridge had prayed for such a law; and though 
several from the Presbyterian laity beyond it were in a contrary 
stile, the Clergy of that sect favored it. The other sects seemed 
to be passive. The Resolution lay some weeks before a bill 
was brought in, and the bill some weeks before it was called 
for; after the passage of the incorporating act it was taken up, 
and, on the third reading, ordered by a small majority to be 
printed for consideration. The bill, in its present dress, pro 
poses a tax of blank per cent, on all taxable property, for sup 
port of Teachers of the Christian Religion. Each person when 
he pays his tax is to name the society to which he dedicates it, 

1785. LETTERS. 131 

and in case of refusal to do so, the tax is to be applied to the 
maintenance of a school in the County. As the bill stood for 
some time, the application in such cases was to be made by the 
Legislature to pious uses. In a committee of the whole it was 
determined, by a majority of 7 or 8, that the word " Christian " 
should be exchanged for the word " Religious." On the report 
to the House, the pathetic zeal of the late Governor Harrison 
gained a like majority for reinstating discrimination. Should 
the bill pass into a law in its present form, it may and will be 
easily eluded. It is chiefly obnoxious on account of its dishon 
orable principle and dangerous tendency. 

The subject of the British debts underwent a reconsideration 
on the motion of Mr. Jones. Though no answer had been re 
ceived from Congress to the Resolutions passed at the last ses 
sion, a material change had evidently taken place in the mind 
of the Assembly, proceeding in part from a more dispassionate 
view of the question, in part from the intervening exchange of 
the ratifications of the Treaty. Mr. Henry was out of the way. 
His previous conversation, I have been told, favored the recon 
sideration; the Speaker, the other champion at the last session 
against the Treaty, was at least half a proselyte. The propo 
sition rejected interest during the period of blank, and left the 
periods of payment blank. In this form it was received with 
little opposition, and by a very great majority. After much 
discussion and several nice divisions, the first blank was filled 
up with the period between the 19 of April, 1775, and the 3d 
of March, 1783, the commencement and cessation of hostilities; 
and the second, with seven annual payments. Whilst the bill 
was depending, some proceedings of the Glasgow Merchants 
were submitted to the House of Delegates, in which they signi 
fied their readiness to receive their debts in four annual pay 
ments, with immediate security and summary recoveries at the 
successive periods, and were silent as to the point of interest. 
Shortly after were presented memorials from the Merchants of 
this Town and Petersburg, representing the advantage which a 
compliance with the Glasgow overtures would give the foreign 
over the domestic creditors. Very little attention seemed to be 

132 WORKS OF MADISON. 1785. 

paid by the House to the overtures, tho , as the Treaty was not 
to be literally pursued, the shadow of assent from the other 
party ,vas worthy of being attended to. In the Senate, the bill 
met with a diversity of opinions. By a majority of one voice 
only an attempt to put all our domestic debts on the same foot 
ing with British debts was lost. Whether this was sincere, or 
a side blow at the bill, I am unable to say. An attempt was 
next made to put on the same footing all those who left this 
Country and joined the other side, or who remained within the 
British territories for one year at any time since the 19th April, 
1775, or who refused a tender of paper money before January, 
1779. These discriminations were almost unanimously disagreed 
to by the House of Delegates. The Senate insisted. The former 
proposed a conference. The Senate concurred. The Conference 
produced a proposition from the House of Delegates, to which 
the Senate assented; but before the assent was notified, an inci 
dent happened which has left the bill in a very singular situa 

The delays attending this measure had spun it out to the day 
preceding the one prefixed for a final adjournment. Several 
of the members went over to Manchester in the evening, with 
an intention, it is to be presumed, of returning the next morn 
ing. The severity of the night rendered their passage back the 
next morning impossible. Without them there was no house. 
The impatience of the members was such as might be supposed. 
Some were for stigmatizing the absentees and adjourning. The 
rest were some for one thing, some for another. At length it 
was agreed to wait until the next day. The next day presented 
the same obstructions in the river. A canoe was sent over for 
enquiry by the Manchester party, but they did not chuse to 
venture themselves. The impatience increased; warm resolu 
tions were agitated. They ended, however, in an agreement to 
wait one day more. On the morning of the third day the pros 
pect remained the same. Patience could hold out no longer, 
and an adjournment to the last day of March ensued. The 
question to be decided is, whether a bill which has passed the 
House of Delegates, and been assented to by the Senate, but 


not sent down to the House of Delegates, nor enrolled, nor ex 
amined, nor signed by the two Speakers, and consequently not 
of record, is or is not a law? A bill for the better regulation 
of the customs is in the same situation. 

After the passage of the Bill for British debts through the 
House of Delegates, a bill was introduced for liquidating the 
depreciated payments into the Treasury, and making the debtors 
liable for the deficiency. A foresight of this consequential step 
had shewn itself in every stage of the first bill. It was opposed 
by Governor Harrison principally, and laid asleep by the refu 
sal of interested members to vote on the question, and the want 
of a quorum without them. 

Among the abortive measures may be mentioned, also, a prop 
osition to authorise the collection of the impost by Congress as 
soon as the concurrence of twelve States should be obtained. 
Connecticut had set the example in this project. The proposi 
tion was made by the Speaker, and supported by the late Gov 
ernor. It was disagreed to by a very large majority on the 
following grounds: 1. The appearance of a schism in the Con 
federacy which it would present to foreign eyes. 2. Its ten 
dency to combinations of smaller majorities of the States. 3. 
The channel it would open for smuggling; goods imported into 
Rhode Island in such case might not only be spread by land 
through the adjacent States, but if slipped into any neighbour 
ing port, might thence be carried, duty-free, to any part of the 
associated States. 4. The greater improbability of a union of 
twelve States on such new ground than of the conversion of 
Rhode Island to the old one. 5. The want of harmony among 
the other States which would be betrayed by the miscarriage 
of such an experiment, and the fresh triumph and obstinacy 
which Rhode Island would derive from it. 

The French vice Consul in this State has complained to the 
Assembly that the want of legal power over our Sheriffs, Goal- 
ers, and prisons, both renders his decrees nugatory, and ex 
poses his person to insults from dissatisfied litigants. The As 
sembly have taken no step whatever on the subject, being at a 
loss to know what ought to be done, in compliance either with 

134 WORKS OF MADISON. 1783. 

general usage or that of France in particular. I have often 
wondered that the proposed Convention between France and 
the United States for regulating the consular functions has 
never been executed. The delay may prove unfriendly both to 
their mutual harmony and their commerce. 

Mr. Henry was elected successor to Mr. Harrison without 
competition or opposition. The victims to the article requiring 
a triennial removal of two counsellors were Merriwether Smith 
and General Christian. Young Mr. Roane and Mr. Miles Sel- 
den take their places. Mr. Short s place is filled by Mr. Joseph 

Nothing has passed during the session concerning an amend 
ment of the State Constitution. The friends of the undertaking 
seem to be multiplying rather than decreasing. Several Peti 
tions from the Western side of the Blue ridge appeared in favor 
of it, as did some from the Western side of the Alleghany pray 
ing for a separate Government. The latter may be considered 
all of them as the children of Arthur Campbell s ambition. The 
Assize Courts and the opening of our rivers are the best answers 
to them. 

The Revisal has but just issued from the press. It consists 
of near 100 folio pages in a small type. I shall send you six 
copies by the first opportunity. 500 was voted at the Spring 
Session to each of the acting members of the Committee, but no 
fund having been provided for payment, no use could be made 
of the warrants. I drew yours, however, and carried them up 
to Orange, where they now lye. A vote of this Session has pro 
vided a fund which gives them immediate value. As soon as I 
get home I shall send the dead warrants to Mr. Nich 8 Lewis, 
who may exchange them for others, and draw the money from 
the Treasury. 

1785. LETTERS. 135 


ORANGE, March 10th. 1785. 

MY DEAR SIR, Your favor of the 12th ult. canie safe to 
hand through the conveyance of Capt. Barber, together with 
the several articles inclosed. The letter from Mr. Jefferson 
speaks of the state of things on the llth of November on the 
other side of the Atlantic as follows: "The lamp of war is 
kindled here, not to be extinguished but by torrents of blood. 
The firing of the Dutch on an Imperial vessel going down the 
Scheld has been followed by the departure of the Imperial Min 
ister from the Hague without taking leave. Troops are in mo 
tion on both sides towards the Scheld, but probably nothing 
will be done till the Spring. This Court has been very silent 
as to the part they will act. Yet their late Treaty with Hol 
land, as well as a certainty that Holland would not have pro 
ceeded so far without assurance of aid, furnish sufficient ground 
to conclude they will side actively with the Republic. The 
King of Prussia, it is believed, will do the same. He has 
patched up his little disputes with Holland and Dantzic. The 
prospect is, that Holland, France, Prussia, and the Porte, will 
be engaged against the two Imperial Courts. England, I think, 
will remain neutral. Their hostility has attained an incredible 
height. Notwithstanding this, they expect to keep our trade 
and cabotage to themselves by the virtue of their proclamation. 
They have no idea that we can so far act in concert as to estab 
lish retaliating measures. Their Irish affairs will puzzle them 
extremely. Should things get into confusion there, perhaps they 
will be more disposed to wish a friendly connection with us. 
The Congress which met on the 25th of October consisted of 
deputies from 8 Counties only. They came to resolutions on 
the reform of Parliament and adjourned to the 20th of January, 
recommending to the other Counties to send deputies then." 

I learn from an intelligent person lately from Kentucky, that 
the Convention there produced nothing but a statement of griev 
ances and a claim of redress. The topic of independence was 
not regularly brought forward at all, and scarcely agitated 


without doors. It is supposed that the late extension of the 
tax on patents, which, as it stood before, is on the list of griev 
ances, will turn the scale in favor of that measure. 


ORANGE, March 20th, 178.3. 

MY DEAR SIR. Your favour of the 15th, continued on the 
17th of December, came very slowly, but finally safe to hand. 
The warm expressions of regard which it contains are extremely 
flattering to me; and the more so as they so entirely correspond 
with my own wishes for everything which may enter into your 

You have not erred in supposing me out of the number of 
those who have relaxed their anxiety concerning the navigation 
of the Mississippi. If there be any who really look on the use 
of that river as an object not to be sought or desired by the 
United States, I cannot but think they frame their policy on 
both very narrow and very delusive foundations. It is true, if 
the States which are to be established on the waters of the Mis 
sissippi were to be viewed in the same relation to the Atlantic 
States as exists between the heterogeneous and hostile Societies 
of Europe, it might not appear strange that a distinction, or 
even an opposition of interests, should be set up. But is it 
true that they can be viewed in such a relation? Will the set 
tlements which are beginning to take place on the branches of 
the Mississippi be so many distinct societies, or only an expan 
sion of the same society? So many new bodies, or merely the 
growth of the old one ? Will they consist of a hostile or a for 
eign people, or will they not be bone of our bone and flesh of 
our flesh ? Besides the confederal band within which they will 
be comprehended, how much will the connection be strength 
ened by the ties of friendship, of marriage, and consanguinity ? 
ties which, it may be remarked, will be even more numerous 
between the ultramontane and the Atlantic States than between 

1785. LETTERS. 137 

any two of the latter. But viewing this subject through the 
medium least favorable to my ideas, it still presents to the 
United States sufficient inducements to insist on the navigation 
of the Mississippi. Upon this navigation depends essentially 
the value of that vast field of territory which is to be sold for 
the benefit of the common Treasury; and upon the value of this 
territory, when settled, will depend the portion of the public 
burdens of which the old States will be relieved by the new. 
Add to this the stake which a considerable proportion of those 
who remain in the old States will acquire in the new by adven 
tures in land, either on their own immediate account or that of 
their descendants. 

Nature has given the use of the Mississippi to those who may 
settle on its waters, as she gave to the United States their 
independence. The impolicy of Spain may retard the former, 
as that of Great Britain did the latter. But as Great Britain 
could not defeat the latter, neither will Spain the former. Na 
ture seems on all sides to be reasserting those rights which have 
so long been trampled on by tyranny and bigotry. Philosophy 
and Commerce are the auxiliaries to whom she is indebted for 
her triumphs. Will it be presumptuous to say, that those na 
tions will shew most wisdom, as well as acquire most glory, 
who, instead of forcing her current into artificial channels, en 
deavour to ascertain its tendency and to anticipate its effects? 
If the United States were to become parties to the occlusion of 
the Mississippi, they would be guilty of treason against the 
very laws under which they obtained and hold their national 

The repugnance of Spain to an amicable regulation of the 
use of the Mississippi is the natural offspring of a system which 
everybody but herself has long seen to be as destructive to her 
interest as it is dishonorable to her character. An extensive 
desert seems to have greater charms in her eye than a flourish 
ing but limited empire: nay, than an extensive, flourishing em 
pire. Humanity cannot suppress the wish that some of those 
gifts which she abuses were placed by just means in hands that 
would turn them to a wiser account. What a metamorphosis 

138 WORKS OP MADISON. 1785. 

would the liberal policy of France work in a little time on the 
Island of New Orleans? It would to her be a fund of as much 
real wealth as Potosi has been of imaginary wealth to Spain. 
It would become the Grand Cairo of the new World. 

The folly of Spain is not less displayed in the means she em 
ploys than in the ends she prefers. She is afraid of the growth 
and neighbourhood of the United States, because it may endan 
ger the tranquility of her American possessions; and to obviate 
this danger she proposes to shut up the Mississippi. If her 
prudence bore any proportion to her jealousy, she would sec 
that if the experiment were to succeed it would only double 
the power of the United States to disturb her, at the same time 
that it provoked a disposition to exert it; she would see that 
the only offensive weapon which can render the United States 
truly formidable to her is a navy, and that if she could keep their 
inhabitants from crossing the Appalachian ridge, she would only 
drive to the Sea most of those swarms which would otherwise 
direct their course to the Western Wilderness. She should re 
flect, too, that as it is impossible for her to destroy the power 
which she dreads, she ought only to consult the means of pre 
venting a future exertion of it. What are those means? Two, 
and two only. The first is a speedy concurrence in such a 
treaty with the United States as will produce a harmony, and 
remove all pretexts for interrupting it. The second, which 
would in fact result from the first, consists in favouring the ex 
tension of their settlements. As these become extended, the 
members of the Confederacy must be multiplied, and along with 
them the wills which are to direct the machine. And as the 
wills multiply, so will the chances against a dangerous union 
of them. We experience every day the difficulty of drawing 
thirteen States into the same plans. Let the number be doubled, 
and so will the difficulty. In the multitude of our Counsellors, 
Spain may be told, lies her safety. 

If the temper of Spain be unfriendly to the views of the Uni 
ted States, they may certainly calculate on the favorable senti 
ments of the other powers of Europe, at least of all such of them 
as favored our Independence. The chief advantages expected 

1783. LETTERS. 139 

in Europe from that event center in the revolution it was to 
produce in the commerce between the new and the old World. 
The commerce of the United States is advantageous to Europe 
in two respects: first, by the unmanufactured produce which 
they export; secondly, by the manufactured imports which they 
consume. Shut up the Mississippi and discourage the settle 
ments on its waters, and what will be the consequence? First, a 
greater quantity of subsistence must be raised within the ancient 
settlements, the culture of tobacco, indigo, and other articles for 
exportation, be proportionably diminished, and their price pro- 
portionably raised on the European consumer. Secondly, the 
hands without land at home being discouraged from seeking it 
where alone it could be found, must be turned in a great degree 
to manufacturing, our imports proportionably diminished, and a 
proportional loss fall on the European manufacturer. Establish 
the freedom of the Mississippi, and let our emigrations have free 
course, and how favorably for Europe will the consequence be 
reversed? First, the culture of every article for exportation 
will be extended, and the price reduced in favor of her con 
sumers. Secondly, our people will increase without an increase 
of our manufacturers, and in the same proportion will be in 
creased the employment and profit of hers. 

These consequences would affect France, in common with the 
other commercial nations of Europe; but there are additional 
motives which promise the United States her friendly wishes and 
offices. Not to dwell on the philanthropy which reigns in the 
heart of her Monarch, and which has already adorned his head 
with a crown of laurels, he cannot be inattentive to the situa 
tion into which a controversy between his antient and new 
allies would throw him, nor to the use which would be made 
of it by his watchful adversary. Will not all his councils, then, 
be employed to prevent this controversy; will it not be seen, as 
the pretensions of the parties directly interfere, it can be pre 
vented only by a dissuasive interposition on one side or the 
other; that on the side of the United States such an interposi 
tion must, from the nature of things, be unavailing; or if their 
pretensions for a moment be lulled, they would but awake with 


fresh energy, and, consequently, that the mediating influence of 
France ought to be turned wholly on the side of Spain? The 
influence of the French Court over that of Spain is known to 
be great. In America it is supposed to be greater than per 
haps it really is. The same may be said of the intimacy of the 
Union between the two nations. If this influence should not 
be exerted, this intimacy may appear to be the cause. The 
United States consider Spain as the only favorite of their Ally 
of whom they have ground to be jealous; and whilst France 
continues to hold the first place in their affections, they must at 
least be mortified at any appearance that the predilection may 
not be reciprocal. 

The Mississippi has drawn me into such length, that I fear 
you will have little patience left for anything else. I will spare 
it as much as possible. I hear nothing from Congress except 
that Mr. Jay has accepted his appointment, and that no successor 
has yet been chosen to Doctor Franklin. Our Legislature made 
a decent provision for remittances due for 1785 from Virginia 
to the Treasury of the United States, and very extensive pro 
vision for opening our inland navigation. They have passed 
an act vesting in General Washington a considerable interest 
in each of the works on James River and Potowmac, but with 
an honorary rather than lucrative aspect. Whether he will 
accept it or not I cannot say. I meant to have sent you a copy 
of the Act, but have been disappointed in getting one from Rich 
mond. They also passed an act for reforming our juridical 
System, which promises salutary effects; and did not pass the 
act for the corrupting our Religious s} T ?tem. Whether they 
passed an act for paying British debts or not they do not know 
themselves. Before the bill for that purpose had got through 
the last usual forms, the want of members broke up the House. 
It remains, therefore, in a situation which has no precedent, and 
without a precedent lawyers and legislators are as much at a 
loss as a mariner without his compass. 

The subjects in which you interested yourself were all re 
ferred to the Executive with power to do, what I hope they 
will do better than the Assembly. I understood before I left 

1785. LETTERS. 141 

Richmond that you would receive officially from the Governor 
a copy of the Resolutions which I sent you. I received a letter 
a few days ago from Mr. Mercer, written in the bosom of wed 
lock at Mr. Sprigg s; another at the same time from Monroe, 
who was well at New York. I have nothing to say of myself 
but that I have exchanged Richmond for Orange, as you will 
have seen by the above date; that I enjoy a satisfactory share 
of health; that I spend the chief of my time in reading, and the 
chief of my reading, on Law; that I shall hear with the great 
est pleasure of your being far better employed; and that I am. 
with most affectionate esteem, your obt friend and serv*. 


ORAXGE, March 21st. 1785. 

DEAR SIR ********** 
I do not wonder at the paragraph which you have copied from 
Mr. Jay s letter to Congress. His feelings are such as every 
one must possess who is worthy of the station which he holds. 
If the Office of foreign affairs be a proper one, and properly 
filled, a reference of all foreign despatches to it in the first in 
stance is so obvious a course, that any other disposition of them 
by Congress seems to condemn their own establishment, to af 
front the Minister in office, and to put on him a label of caution 
against that respect and confidence of the Ministers of foreign 
powers which are essential to his usefulness. I have always 
conceived the several ministerial departments of Congress to 
be provisions for aiding their counsels as well as executing 
their resolutions, and that consequently, whilst they retain the 
right of rejecting the advice which may come from either of 
them, they ought not to renounce the opportunity of making use 
of it. The foreign department is, I am sensible, in several re 
spects the most difficult to be regulated, but I cannot think the 
question arising on Mr. Jay s letter is to be numbered among 
the difficulties. The practice of Congress during the adminis- 


tration of his predecessor was never fixed, and frequently im 
proper, and I always suspected that his indifference to the place 
resulted, in part at least, from the mortifications to which this 
unsteadiness subjected him. 

You will not be disappointed at the barrenness which is hence 
to mark the correspondence on my part. In the recess of the 
Legislature few occurrences happen which can be interesting, 
and, in my retired situation, few even of these fall within my 
knowledge. The situation of Mr. Jones will probably make 
his correspondence a more productive one. He has probably 
already mentioned to you the advances which Kentucky was 
said to be making towards an independent Government. It is 
certain that a Convention has been held, which might have been 
set on foot with an eye to such an event; but I learn from an 
intelligent person lately from that district, that its deliberations 
turned altogether on the pressure of certain acts of the General 
Assembly, and terminated in a vote of application for redress. 
He supposes, however, that the late extension of the tax on 
patents will give a successful handle to those who wish to accel 
erate a separation. This tax as it stood before was in the first 
class of their grievances. 

You will, I expect, receive this from the hands of Mr. Burn 
ley, a young gentleman of my neighborhood, who has passed 
with reputation thro 7 Mr. Wythe s School, and has since taken 
out his forensic diploma. Your civilities to him will be well 
placed, and will confer an obligation on me. If Col. Grayson 
has recovered from the gout, which, I hear, arrested him in the 
moment of his intended departure, and is with you, be so kind 
as to make my best respects to him. 

1 am, dear sir, with sincere regard and esteem, your obedient 
friend and serv. 

1785. LETTERS. 143 


ORANGE, April 12th, 1785. 


The appointment of Mr. Adams to the Court of Great Britain 
is a circumstance which does not contradict my expectations; 
nor can I say that it displeases me. Upon Geographical con 
siderations New England will always have one of the principal 
appointments, and I know of no individual from that quarter 
who possesses more of their confidence, or would possess more 
of that of the other States; nor do I think him so well fitted 
for any Court of equal rank as that of London. I hope it has 
removed all obstacles to the establishment of Mr. Jefferson at 
the Court of France. 

Will not Congress soon take up the subject of Consular ar 
rangements? I should suppose them at least of equal moment 
at present with some of the higher appointments which are likely 
to occupy them. Our friend Mr. Maury is waiting, with a very 
inconvenient suspension of his other plans, the event of the offer 
he has made of his services. I find he considers Ireland as the 
station next to be desired after that of England. He conceives, 
and I believe very justly, that the commercial intercourse be 
tween that Country and this will be very considerable, and 
merits our particular cultivation. 

I suppose, from your silence on the subject, that the Western 
posts are still in the hands of Great Britain. Has the subject 
of the vacant lands to be disposed of been revived? What 
other measures are on foot or in comtemplation for paying off 
the public debts? What payments have been made of late into 
the public Treasury? It is said here that Massachusetts is 
taking measures for urging Rhode Island into the Impost, or 
rendering the Scheme practicable without her concurrence. Is 
it so? 

How many of the States have agreed to change the 8th Article 
of the Confederation? The Legislature of this State passed a 
law for complying with the provisional Act of Congress for 
executing that article as it now stands; the operation of which 

114 WORKS OF MADISON. 178,3. 

confirms the necessity of changing the article. The law re 
quires, as the Act of Congress does among other things, a list 
of the Houses. If the list does not discriminate the several 
kinds of Houses, how can Congress collect from it the value of 
the improvements, how do justice to all their constituents? 
And how can a discrimination be made in this country, where 
the variety is so infinite and so unsusceptible of description ? 
If Congress govern themselves by number alone, this Country 
will certainly appeal to a more accurate mode of carrying the 
present rule of the confederation into practice. The average 
value of the improvements in Virginia is not one-fourth, perhaps 
not one-tenth, of that of the improvements in Pennsylvania or 
New England. Compare this difference with the proportion 
between the value of improvements and that of the soil, and 
what an immense loss shall we be taxed with? The number of 
buildings will not be a less unjust rule than the number of acres 
for estimating the respective abilities of the States. 

The only proceeding of the late Session of Assembly which 
makes a noise through the Country is that which relates to a 
General Assessment. The Episcopal people are generally for 
it, though I think the zeal of some of them has cooled. The 
laity of the other sects are equally unanimous on the other side. 
So are all the Clergy, except the Presbyterian, who seem as 
ready to set up an establishment which is to take them in as 
they were to pull down that which shut them out. I do not 
know a more shameful contrast than might be found between 
their memorials on the latter and former occasion. 

In one of your letters received before I left Richmond you 
expressed a wish for a better cypher. Since my return to 
Orange I have been able to get one made out, which will answer 
every purpose. I will either enclose it herewith or send it by 
the gentleman who is already charged with a letter for you. I 
wish much to throw our correspondence into a more regular 
course. I would write regularly every week if I had a regular 
conveyance to Fredericksburg. As it is, I will write as often 
as I can find conveyances. The business of this neighborhood 
which used to go to Fredericksburg is in a great measure 

1785. LETTERS. 145 

turned towards Richmond, which is too circuitous a channel. 
Opportunities in every direction, however, will be henceforward 
multiplied by the advance of the season. If you are not afraid 
of too much loading the mail, I could wish you to enclose in 
your letters the last N. Y. or Philadelphia paper. 
I am, dear Sir, yours most sincerely. 


ORANGE, April 27th, 1785. 

DEAR SIR, I have received your two favors of Nov r llth 
and December 8th. Along with the former I received the two 
pamphlets on animal magnetism and the last aeronautic expe 
dition, together with the phosphoretic matches. These articles 
were a great treat to my curiosity. As I had left Richmond 
before they were brought thither by Col. Le Maire, I had no 
opportunity of attending myself to your wishes with regard to 
him; but I wrote immediately to Mr. Jones, and desired him to 
watch over the necessities of Le Maire. He wrote me for an 
swer that the Executive, though without regular proof of his 
claims, were so well satisfied from circumstances of the justice 
of them, that they had voted him <150 for his relief till the 
Assembly could take the whole into consideration. This infor 
mation has made me easy on the subject, though I have not 
withdrawn from the hands of Mr. Jones the provisional re 

I thank you much for your attention to my literary wants. 
All the purchases you have made for me are such as I should 
have made for myself with the same opportunities. You will 
oblige me by adding to them the Dictionary, in 13 vol., 4, by 
Felice and others. Also, de Thou, in French. If the utility of 
Moreri be not superseded by some better work, I should be glad 
to have him, too. I am afraid, if I were to attempt a catalogue 
of my wants, I should not only trouble you beyond measure, but 

VOL. i. 10 


exceed the limits which other considerations ought to prescribe 
to me. I cannot, however, abridge the commission you were 
so kind as to take on yourself in a former letter, of procuring 
me from time to time such books as may be either "old and 
curious, or new and useful." Under this description will fall 
those particularized in my former letters, to wit : Treatises on 
the ancient or modern Federal Republics, on the Law of Na 
tions, and the History, natural and political, of the new World; 
to which I will add such of the Greek and Roman authors, 
where they can be got very cheap, as are worth having, and 
are not on the common list of school classics. Other books 
which particularly occur are the translation (French) of the 
historians of the Roman Empire during its decline, by - ; 
Pascal s provincial letters; Don Ulloa in the original; Lin 
naeus best edition; Ordonnauces ^Jarines; Collection of Tract,? 
in French on the economies of different nations, I forget the full 
title. It is much referred to by Smith on the Wealth of Nations. 
I am told a Mons r Amelot has lately published his travels into 
China, which, if they have any merit, must be very entertaining. 
Of Buffon, I have his original work of 31 vols., 10 vols. of sup 
plement, and 16 vols. on birds. I shall be glad of the contin 
uation as it may from time to time be published. 

I am so pleased with the new invented lamp that I shall not 
grudge two guineas for one of them. I have seen a pocket 
compass of somewhat larger diameter than a watch, and which 
may be carried in the same way. It has a spring for stopping 
the vibration of the needle when not in use. One of these would 
be very convenient in case of a ramble into the Western coun 
try. In my walks for exercise or amusement objects frequently 
present themselves which it might be matter of curiosity to in 
spect, but which it is difficult or impossible to approach. A 
portable glass would consequently be a source of many little 
gratifications. I have fancied that such an one might be fitted 
into a case without making it too heavy. On the outside of 
the tube might be engraved a scale of inches, &c. If such a 
project could be executed for a few guineas, I should be willing 

1785. LETTERS. 147 

to submit to the price; if not, the best substitute, I suppose, 
will be a pocket telescope, composed of several tubes so con 
structed as to slide the lesser into the greater. 

I should feel great remorse at troubling you with so many 
requests if your kind and repeated offers did not stifle it in 
some measure. Your proposal for my replacing here advances 
for me without regard to the exchange is liable to no objec 
tion, except that it will probably be too unequal in my favour. 
I beg that you will enable me as much as you can to keep these 
little matters balanced. 

The papers from Le Grand were sent, as soon as I got them, 
to Mr. Jones, with a request that he would make the use of 
them which you wished me to do. 

Your remarks on the tax on transfers of land in a general 
view appear to me to be just, but there were two circumstances 
which gave a peculiarity to the case in which our law adopted 
it. One was, that the tax will fall much on those who are eva 
ding their quotas of other taxes by removing to Georgia and 
Kentucky; the other, that as such transfers are more frequent 
among those who do not remove in the Western than the East 
ern part of the Country, it will fall heaviest where direct taxes 
are least collected. With regard to the tax in general on law 
proceedings, it cannot, perhaps, be justified, if tried by the strict 
rule which proportions the quota of every man to his ability; 
time, however, will gradually in some measure equalize it, and 
if it be applied to the support of the Judiciary establishment, 
as was the ultimate view of the periods of the tax, it seems to 
square very well with the Theory of taxation. 

The people of Kentucky had lately a Convention, which it 
was expected would be the mother of a separation. I am in 
formed they proceeded no farther than to concert an address to 
the Legislature on some points in which they think the laws 
bear unequally upon them. They will be ripe for that event, at 
least as soon as their interest calls for it. There is no danger 
of a concert between them and the Counties West of the Al- 
leghany, which we mean to retain. If the latter embark in 
a scheme for independence, it will be on their own bottom. 

148 WORKS OF MADISON. 1785. 

They are more disunited in every respect from Kentucky than 
from Virginia. 

I have not learnt with certainty whether General Washing 
ton will accept or decline the shares voted him by the Assembly 
in the companies for opening our rivers. If he does not chuse 
to take to himself any benefit from the donation, he has, I think, 
a fine opportunity at once of testifying his disinterested pur 
poses, of shewing his respect for the Assembly, and of render 
ing a service to his Country. He may accept the gift so far as 
to apply it to the scheme of opening the rivers, and may then 
appropriate the revenue which it is hereafter to produce to some 
patriotic establishment. I lately dropped a hint of this sort to 
one of his friends, and was told that such an idea had been sug 
gested to him. The private subscriptions for Potowmac, I hear, 
amount to 1 0,000 Sterling. I cannot discover that those for 
James River deserve mention, or that the undertaking is pushed 
with any spirit. If those who are most interested in it let slip 
the present opportunity, their folly will probably be severely 
punished for the want of such another. It is said the under 
taking on the Susquehannah by Maryland goes on with great 
spirit and expectations. I have heard nothing of Rumsey or 
his boats since he went into the Northern States. If his ma 
chinery for stemming the current operates on the water alone, 
as is given out, may it not supply the great desideratum for 
perfecting the balloons? 

I understand that Chase and Jenifer on the part of Maryland, 
Mason and Henderson on the part of Virginia, have had a meet 
ing on the proposition of Virginia for settling the navigation 
and jurisdiction of Potowmac below the falls, and have agreed 
to report to the two Assemblies the establishment of a concur 
rent jurisdiction on that river and Chesapeake. The most am 
icable spirit is said to have governed the negociation. 

The Bill for a general Assessment has produced some fer 
mentation below the mountains, and a violent one beyond them. 
The contest at the next session on this question will be a warm 
and precarious one. The port bill will also undergo a fiery 
trial. I wish the Assize Courts may not partake of the dan- 

1785. LETTERS. 149 

ger. The elections, as far as they have come to my knowledge, 
are likely to produce a great proportion of new members. In 
Albemarle, young Mr. Fry has turned out Mr. Carter. The late 
Governor Harrison, I hear, has been baffled in his own county, 
but meant to be a Candidate in Surry, and in case of a rebuif 
there, to throw another die for the borough of Norfolk. I do 
not know how he construes the doctrine of residence. It is 
surmised that the machinations of Tyler, who fears a rivalship 
for the Chair, are at the bottom of his difficulties. Arthur Lee 
is elected in Prince William. He is said to have paved the way 
by promises to overset the port bill, which is obnoxious to Dum 
fries, and to prevent the removal of the Assize Court from this 
town to Alexandria. 

I received a letter from the Marquis Fayette, dated on the 
eve of his embarcation, which has the following paragraph: " I 
have much conferred with the General upon the Potowmac sys 
tem. Many people think the navigation of the Mississippi is 
not an advantage, but it may be the excess of a very good thing, 
viz: the opening of your rivers. I fancy it has not changed 
your opinion, but beg you will write me on the subject; in the 
meanwhile I hope Congress will act coolly and prudently by 
Spain, who is such a fool that allowances must be made." It 
is unlucky that he should have left America with such an idea 
as to the Mississippi. It may be of the worst consequence, as 
it is not wholly imaginary, the prospect of extending the Com 
merce of the Atlantic States to the Western waters having 
given birth to it. I cannot believe that many minds are tainted 
with so illiberal and short-sighted a policy. I have thought it 
not amiss to write the Marquis according to the request of his 
letter, and have stated to him the motives and obligations which 
must render the United States inflexible on the subject of the 
Mississippi, the folly of Spain in contesting it, and our expec 
tations from the known influence of France over Spain, and her 
friendly dispositions toward the United States. It is but jus 
tice to the Marquis to observe that, in all our conversations on 
the Mississippi, he expressed with every mark of sincerity a zeal 
for our claims and a pointed dislike to the National Character 

150 WORKS OF MADISON. 1785. 

and policy of Spain; and that if his zeal should be found to 
abate, I should construe it to be the effect of a supposed revolu 
tion in the sentiments of America. 

This would have been of somewhat earlier date, but I 
postponed it that I might be able to include some information 
relative to your Nephews. My last informed you that your 
eldest was then with Mr. Maury. I was so assured by Mr. 
Underwood, from his neighborhood, who I supposed could not 
be mistaken; I afterwards discovered that he was so, but could 
get no precise information till within a few days. One of my 
brothers being called into that part of country by business, I 
wrote to Mrs. Carr, and got him to wait on her. The answer 
with which I have been favored imports that " her eldest son 
was taken last fall with a fever, which, with repeated relapses, 
kept him extremely weak and low till about the 1st of January, 
from which time he was detained at home by delays in equip 
ping him for Williamsburg till the 1st of April, when he set 
out with promises to make up his lost time; that her youngest 
son had also been detained at home by ill health till very lately, 
but that he would certainly go to the academy as soon as a va 
cation on hand was over; that his time had not been entirely 
lost, as his brother was capable of instructing him whenever his 
health would admit." Mr. Maury s school is said to be very 
flourishing. Mr. Wythe and the other gentlemen of the Univer 
sity have examined it from time to time, and published their 
approbation of its management. I cannot speak with the same 
authority as to the Academy in Prince Edward. The informa 
tion which I have received has been favorable to it. In the 
recommendation of these seminaries I was much governed by 
the probable permanency of them; nothing being more ruinous 
to education than the frequent interruptions and change of 
masters and methods incident to the private schools of this 

Our winter has been full of vicissitudes, but, on the whole, far 
from being a severe one. The spring has been uncommonly cold 
and wet, and vegetation, of course, very backward, till within a 
few days, during which it has been accelerated by very uncom- 

1785. LETTERS 151 

mon heat. A pocket thermometer which stands on the second 
floor and the N. W. side of the house was, on the 24th inst., at 
4 o clock, at 77; on the 25th, at 78; on the 26th, at 81J; to-day, 
the 27th, at 82. The weather during this period has been fair, 
and the wind S; the atmosphere thick N. W.; our wheat in the 
ground is very unpromising throughout the country. The price 
of that article on tide-water is about 6.9. Corn sells in this part 
of the country at 10s. and under; below, at 15s.; and where the 
insect prevailed, as high as 20s. It is said to have been raised 
by a demand for exportation. Tobacco is selling on Rappahan- 
nock at 32s., and Richmond at 37s. 6c. It is generally ex 
pected that it will at least get up to 40s. Some of our peaches 
are killed, and most of our cherries; our apples are as yet safe. 
I cannot say how it is with the fruit in other parts of the coun 
try. The mischief to the cherries, &c., was done on the night 
of the 20th, when we had a severe black frost. 

I cannot take my leave of you without making my acknowl 
edgements for the very friendly invitation contained in your 
last. If I should ever visit Europe, I should wish to do it less 
stinted in time than your plan proposes. This crisis, too, would 
be particularly inconvenient, as it would break in upon a 
course of reading which, if I neglect now, I shall probably never 
resume. I have some reason, also, to suspect that crossing the 
sea would be unfriendly to a singular disease of my constitu 
tion. The other part of your invitation has the strongest bias 
of my mind on its side, but my situation is as yet too dependent 
on circumstances to permit my embracing it absolutely. It 
gives me great satisfaction to find that you are looking forward 
to the moment which is to restore you to your native country, 
though considerations of a public nature check my wishes that 
such an event may be expedited. 

Present my best respects to Mr. Short and Miss Patsy, and 
accept of the affectionate regards of, Dear Sir, your sincere 

What has become of the subterraneous city discovered in 


152 WORKS OF MADISON. 1785. 

Deaths: Thompson Mason, Bartholomew Dandridge, Ryland 
Randolph, Joseph Reed of Philadel a . 


ORANGE, April 28th, 1785. 

DEAR SIR, I have written several letters within a little time 
past, which were sent to you partly by the post, partly by Mr. 
Burnley, a young gentleman of this county. In one of the let 
ters I enclosed a cypher, which will serve all the purposes of 
our future correspondence. This covers a letter from Mr. Jef 
ferson, which you will be so good as to forward by the first 
packet or other equally eligible conveyance. Our elections, as 
far as I hear, are likely to produce a great proportion of new 
members. In some counties they are influenced by the Bill for 
a general assessment. In Culpeper, Mr. Pendleton, a worthy 
man, and acceptable in his general character to the people, was 
laid aside in consequence of his vote for the Bill, in favor of an 
adversary to it. The delegates from Albemarle are your friend 
Mr. W. C. Nicholas and Mr. Fry. Mr. Carter stood a poll, but 
fell into the rear. The late Governor Harrison, I am told, has 
been baffled in his own County, meant to be a candidate for 
Surry, and in case of a rebuff there to throw another die for 
the Borough of Norfolk. I do not know how he proposes to 
satisfy the doctrine of residence. 

I hear frequent complaints of the disorders of our coin, and 
the want of uniformity in the denominations of the States. Do 
not Congress think of a remedy for these evils? The regula 
tion of weights and measure seem also to call for their atten 
tion. Every day will add to the difficulty of executing these 
works. If a mint be not established and a recoinage effected 
-while the federal debts carry the money through the hands of 
Congress, I question much whether their limited powers will 
ever be able to render this branch of their prerogative effectual. 
With regard to the regulation of weights and measures, would 
it not be highly expedient, as well as honorable to the federal 

1785. LETTERS. 153 

administration, to pursue the hint which has been suggested by 
ingenious and philosophical men, to wit: that the standard of 
measure should be first fixed by the length of a pendulum vibra 
ting seconds at the Equator or any given latitude; and that the 
standard of weights should be a cubical piece of gold, or other 
homogeneous body, of dimensions fixed by the standard of 
measure? Such a scheme appears to be easily reducible to prac 
tice; and as it is founded on the division of time, which is the 
same at all times and in all places, and proceeds on other data 
which are equally so, it would not only secure a perpetual uni 
formity throughout the United States, but might lead to univer 
sal standards in these matters among nations. Next to the in- 
conveniency of speaking different languages, is that of using 
different and arbitrary weights and measures. 
I am, dear sir, your affectionate friend. 


ORANGE, May 29th, 1785. 

DEAR SIR, Your favor of May came to hand a few days 
ago. It is fortunate that the variant ideas have been so easily 
accommodated touching the mode of surveying and selling the 
territorial fund. It will be equally so, I think, if you can dis 
possess the British of the Western posts before the land office 
is opened. On this event and the navigation of the Mississippi 
will much depend the fiscal importance of the back country to 
the United States. The amount of the proposed requisition 
will, I fear, startle those to whom it will be addressed. The 
use of certificates as a medium for discharging the interest of 
the home debt is a great evil, though I suppose a necessary 
one. The advantage it gives to Sharpers and Collectors can 
scarcely be described, and what is more noxious, it provokes 
violations of public faith more than the weight of the Burden 
itself. The 1,000,000 dollars to be paid in specie, and the 
greatest part of it to be sent abroad, will equally try the virtue 

154 WORKS OF MADISON. 1785. 

of the States. If they do not flinch, however, they will have 
the satisfaction of coming out of the trial with more honor, 
though with less money. 

I have lately heard that the Kentucky Delegates will be in 
structed to propose to the next session the separation of that 
Country from this, and its being handed over to Congress for 
admission into the Confederacy. If they pursue their object 
through this channel, they will not only accomplish it without 
difficulty, but set a useful example to other Western settlements 
which may chuse to be lopped off from other States. My in 
formation as to this matter is not authentic, but such as I am 
inclined to believe true. I hear, also, that a State is actually 
set up in the back country of North Carolina, that it is organ 
ized, named, and has deputed representatives to Congress. 

It gives me much pleasure to observe by 2 printed reports 
sent me by Col. Grayson, that, in the latter, Congress had ex 
punged a clause contained in the first, for setting apart a dis 
trict of land in each Township for supporting the Religion of 
the majority of inhabitants. How a regulation so unjust in 
itself, so foreign to the authority of Congress, so hurtful to the 
sale of the public land, and smelling so strongly of an anti 
quated Bigotry, could have received the countenance of a Com 
mittee, is truly matter of astonishment. In one view it might 
have been no disadvantage to this State, in case the General 
Assessment should take place, as it would have given a repel 
lent quality to the new Country in the estimation of those whom 
our own encroachments on Religious liberty would be calcu 
lated to banish to it. But the adversaries to the assessment 
begin to think the prospect here flattering to their wishes. The 
printed bill has excited great discussion, and is likely to prove 
the sense of the community to be in favor of the liberty now 
enjoyed. I have heard of several Counties where the late rep 
resentatives have been laid aside for voting for the Bill, and 
not of a single one where the reverse has happened. The Pres 
byterian Clergy, too, who were in general friends to the scheme, 
are already in another tone, either compelled by the laity of 
that sect, or alarmed at the probability of further interferences 

1785. LETTERS. 155 

of the Legislature if they once begin to dictate in matters of 

I am, dear sir, your s affectionately. 


ORANGE, 21 June, 1785. 

DEAR SIR, Finding from a letter of Mr. Mazzei that you 
have never been furnished with a copy of the Bill for establish 
ing the Christian Religion in this State, I now inclose one, 
regretting that I had taken it for granted that you must have 
been supplied through some other channel. A very warm op 
position will be made to this innovation by the people of the 
middle and back Counties, particularly the latter. They do 
not scruple to declare it an alarming usurpation on their fun 
damental rights, and that though the General Assembly should 
give it the form, they will not give it the validity of a law. If 
there be any limitation to the power of the Legislature, partic 
ularly if this limitation is to be sought in our Declaration of 
Rights or form of Government. I own the Bill appears to me to 
warrant this language of the people. 

A gentleman of credit lately from Kentucky tells me that he 
fell in with two persons on the Ohio, who were going down the 
River in the character of Commissioners from Georgia, author 
ized to demand from the Spanish Governor of New Orleans the 
posts within the limits of that State, and a settlement of the 
boundary in general between it and the Spanish possessions. 
The Gentleman did not see their Commission, but entertains no 
doubt of their having one. He was informed that two others 
were joined in it, who had taken a different route. Should 
there be no mistake in this case, you will no doubt be able to 
get a full account of the Embassy. I would willingly suppose 
that no State could be guilty either of so flagrant an outrage 
on the federal Constitution, or of so imprudent a mode of pur- 
puing their claims against a foreign nation. 


I observe in a late Newspaper that the commercial discon 
tents of Boston are spreading to New York and Philadelphia. 
Whether they will reach Virginia or not, I am unable to say. 
If they should, they must proceed from a different interest; from 
that of the planters, not that of the Merchants. The present 
system here is as favorable to the latter as it is ruinous to the 
former. Our trade was never more compleatly monopolized by 
Great Britain, when it was under the direction of the British 
Parliament, than it is at this moment. But as our Merchants 
are almost all connected with that Country, and that only, and 
as we have neither ships rior seamen of our own, nor likely to 
have any in the present course of things, no mercantile com 
plaints are heard. The planters are dissatisfied, and with rea 
son; but they enter little into the science of commerce, and 
rarely of themselves combine in defence of their interests. If 
any thing could rouse them to a proper view of their situation, 
one might expect it from the contrast of the market here with 
that of other States. Our staple has of late been as low as a 
guinea per hundred on Rappahannock, and not above 32 or 33 
Shillings on James River. The current prices in Philadelphia 
during the same period have been 44 shillings of this currency 
for tobacco of the latter inspections, and in like proportion for 
that of the former. 

The prices of imports of every kind in those two markets 
furnish a contrast equally mortifying to us. I have not had the 
same information from other States northward of us, but I have 
little doubt that it would teach us the same lesson. Our planters 
cannot suffer a loss of less than fifty per cent, on the staple of 
the country, if to the direct loss in the price of the staple be 
added their indirect loss in the price of what they purchase 
with their staple. It is difficult, notwithstanding, to make them 
sensible of the utility of establishing a Philadelphia or* a Bal 
timore among ourselves, as one indispensable step towards re 
lief; and the difficulty is not a little increased by the pains 
taken by the merchants to prevent such a reformation, and by 

* By concentrating our commerce at Alexandria and Norfolk, the objoct of 
the port Bill. 

178:.. LETTERS. 157 

the opposition arising from local views. I have been told that 
Arthur Lee paved the way to his election in Prince William by 
promising that, among other things, he would overset the Port 
bill. Mr. Jefferson writes me that the Port Bill has been pub 
lished in all the Gazettes in Europe, with the highest approba 
tion every where except in Great Britain. It would indeed be 
as surprising if she should be in favor of it, as it is that any 
among ourselves should be against it. I see no possibility of 
engaging other nations in a rivalship with her without some 
such regulation of our commerce. 

TO R. H. LEE. 

ORANGE, July 7th, 1785. 

DEAR SIR, Your favonr of the 30th of May came to hand 
yesterday only, having lain some time in Fredericksburg, and 
finally came to Orange, via Albemarle. 

I agree perfectly with you in thinking it the interest of this 
country to embrace the first decent opportunity of parting with 
Kentucky, and to refuse with firmness to part with any more 
of our settlements beyond the Alleghany. It seems necessary, 
however, that this first instance of a voluntary dismemberment 
of a State should be conducted in such a manner as to form a 
salutary precedent. As it is an event which will indirectly 
affect the whole Confederacy, Congress ought clearly to be 
made a party to it, either immediately, or by a proviso that the 
partition act shall not take effect till the actual admission of 
the new State into the Union. No interval whatever should be 
suffered between the release of our hold on that Country and 
its taking on itself the obligations of a member of the federal 
body. Should it be made a separate State without this precau 
tion, it might possibly be tempted to remain so, as well with 
regard to the U. S. as to Virginia, by two considerations: 1. 
The evasion of its share of the general debt. 2. The allure 
ment which an exemption from taxes would prove to the citizens 
of States groaning under them. It is very possible that such a 

158 WORKS OF MADISON. 1785. 

policy might in the end prove a disadvantageous one, but the 
charms of ambition, and, at present, interest, too, often prevail 
against the cool remonstrances of true policy. May we not, 
also, with justice, require that a reasonable portion of the par 
ticular debt of Virginia should be assumed by that part of Vir 
ginia which is to set up for itself? 

The arrival of Mr. Gardoqui will turn out, I hope, an auspi 
cious step towards conciliating explanations and overtures with 
regard to the Mississippi. Besides the general motives for ex 
pediting an adjustment of this matter, the prodigious effect of 
it on the sale of the back lands makes it of peculiar importance. 
The same consideration presses for such arrangements with G. 
B. as will give us speedy possession of the Western posts. As 
to the commercial arrangements which we wish from her, I own 
my expectations are far from being sanguine. In fact, what 
could she get from us by concessions, which she is unwilling to 
make, which she does not now enjoy? 

I cannot speak with certainty as to all the States, but sure I 
am that the trade of this was never more completely monopo 
lized by her when it was under the direction of her own laws 
than it is at this moment. Our present situation, therefore, 
precisely verifies the doctrine held out in Deane s intercepted 
letters. The revolution has robbed us of our trade with the 
West Indies, the only one which yielded us a favorable balance, 
without opening any other channels to compensate for it. What 
makes the British monopoly the more mortifying, is the abuse 
which they make of it. Not only the private planters, who 
have resumed the practice of shipping their own Tobacco, but 
many of the merchants, particularly the natives of the country, 
who have no connections with G. B., have received acc ts of sales 
this season, which carry the most visible and shameful frauds 
in every article. 

In every point of view, indeed, the trade of this country is in 
a deplorable condition. A comparison of current prices here 
with those in the Northern States, either at this time or at any 
time since the peace, will shew that the loss direct on our pro 
duce, and indirect on our imports, is not less than fifty per cent. 

1785. LETTERS. 159 

Till very lately the price of our staple has been down at 32 and 
33s 3n James River; at 28s. on Rappahannock. During the 
same period, the former was selling in Philadelphia, and I sup 
pose in other Northern ports, at 44s. of this currency, and the 
latter in proportion; though it cannot be denied that Tobacco 
in the Northern ports is intrinsically worth less than it is here, 
being at the same distance from its ultimate market, and bur 
dened with the freight from this to the other States. The price 
of merchandize here is at least as much above as that of To 
bacco is below the Northern standard. * 

We have had throughout the month of June, and until this 
time, very hot and very wet weather. The effect of it on upland 
corn has been favorable, but much the reverse on that of the 
flats. It has given full opportunity to the planters to pitch 
their crops of Tobacco, but though many of them have repeated 
this operation several times, the grasshoppers and other noxious 
insects have been so uncommonly troublesome that in many 
places the prospect is likely to be much abridged. Should this 
not be the case, the efforts of the country must produce the 
greatest crop that has been seen since the peace. Our Wheat 
in this part of the country is very indifferent. How it may be 
in others I cannot say, but believe the complaints are pretty 

With the highest esteem and regard, Dear Sir, your obt and 
very humble serv. 


ORANGE, July 26th, 1785. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Your favour of the 17th inst., inclosing a 
letter from Mr. Jones and a copy of the ecclesiastical Journal, 
came safe to hand. If I do not dislike the contents of the lat 
ter, it is because they furnish, as I conceive, fresh and forcible 
arguments against the General Assessment. It may be of little 
consequence what tribunal is to judge of clerical misdemeanors 

160 WORKS OF MADISON. 1785. 

o~ \ow firmly the incumbent may be fastened on the parish, 
whilst the vestry and people may hear and pay him or not, as 
they like. But should a legal salary be annexed to the title, 
this phantom of power would be substantiated into a real mon 
ster of oppression. Indeed, it appears to be so at present as 
far as the Glebes and donations extend. I had seen some par 
cels of these proceedings before I received your letter, and had 
remarked the sprinklings of liberality to which you allude. 
My conjectures, I believe, did not err as to the quarter from 
which -they came. 

The urgency of General Washington in the late negociation 
with Maryland makes it probable, I think, that he will feel 
some chagrin at the inattention to that with Pennsylvania, 
which has a much nearer connection with his favorite object, 
and was, moreover, suggested by himself. Shortly after the 
date of my last I dropped a few lines to Col. Mason, reminding 
him that some report will be expected from the Commissioners 
by the Assembly, as well as of the real importance of the busi 
ness. I have not yet received any answer, and begin to sus 
pect that my letter may have miscarried. Your information 
leads me to doubt whether he has ever been furnished with a 
copy of the Resolution under which he is to proceed. I will 
write to him again, and inclose one which Mr. Jones sent me. 

I have a letter from the Marquis, but dated as far back as 
March. It was accompanied with a Copy of a French memo 
rial to the Emperor, which seems to have stifled the War in its 
birth; and an Extract from a late work of Mr. Neckar, which 
has made him the idol of one party in France and the execra 
tion of the other. To avoid the trouble of transcribing, I send 
them as they came to me. You can peruse and return them by 
my brother, who is the bearer of this, or by any future oppor 
tunity. The Marquis says he is doing all he can to forward our 
claim to the Mississippi; that the French Ministry understand 
the matter and are well disposed; but that they are apprehen 
sive " Spain knows not how to give up what she once has." 

I had heard of the strictures on the incorporating Act, but 
without being able to pick up any of the papers in which they 

1785. LETTERS. 161 

are published. I have desired my brother to search them out 
if he can. Perhaps you can refer him to the proper press and 

At the instance of Col. Nicholas, of Albemarle, I undertook 
the draught of the inclosed remonstrance against the General 
Assessment. Subscriptions to it are on foot, I believe, in sun 
dry Counties, and will be extended to others. My choice is, 
that my name may not be associated with it. I am not sure 
that I know precisely your ideas on this subject; but were they 
more variant from mine than I take them to be, I should not be 
restrained from a confidential communication. 

I keep up my attention, as far as I can command my time, to 
the course of reading which I have of late pursued, and shall 
continue to do so. I am, however, far from being determined 
ever to make a professional use of it. My wish is, if possible, 
to provide a decent and independent subsistence, without en 
countering the difficulties which I foresee in that line. Another 
of my wishes is to depend as little as possible on the labour of 
slaves. The difficulty of reconciling these views has brought 
into my thoughts, several projects from which advantage seemed 
attainable. I have, in concert with a friend here, one at pres 
ent on the anvil, which we think cannot fail to yield a decent 
reward for our trouble. Should we persist in it, it will cost 
me a ride to Philadelphia, after which it will go on without my 
being ostensibly concerned. I forbear to particularize till I 
can do it ore tenus. Should I take this ride I may possibly con 
tinue it into the Eastern States; Col. Monroe having given me 
an invitation to take a ramble of curiosity this fall, which I 
have half a mind to accept, and among outher routes named 
this. I recollect that you talked yourself of a trip last spring 
as far as Lancaster. Have you laid it aside totally? Or will 
your domestic endearments forbid even the trip to Bath, from 
which I promised myself the happiness of taking you by the 
hand in Orange? Give my warmest respects to Mrs. Randolph, 
and be assured that I remain, with sincere affection, your 

VOL. i. 11 


Was the Royal assent ever given to the act of 1769, entitled 
" an act to amend an act entitled, an act declaring the law con 
cerning Executions and for relief of insolvent debtors." 

To the Honorable the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of 

Virginia : 

We, the subscribers, citizens of the said Commonwealth, hav 
ing taken into serious consideration a Bill printed by order of 
the last session of General Assembly, entitled "A Bill establish 
ing a provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion," and 
conceiving that the same, if finally armed with the sanctions of 
a law, will be a dangerous abuse of power, are bound as faithful 
members of a free State to remonstrate against it, and to de 
clare the reasons by which we are determined. We remonstrate 
against the said Bill 

1. Because we hold it for a fundamental and undeniable 
truth, " that Religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, 
and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by rea 
son and conviction, not by force or violence."* The Religion, 
then, of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience 
of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it, as 
these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable 
right. It is unalienable, because the opinions of men, depend 
ing only on the evidence contemplated by their own minds, 
cannot follow the dictates of other men. It is unalienable, also, 
because what is here a right towards men is a duty towards the 
Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator 
such homage, and such only, as he believes to be acceptable to 
him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in de 
gree of obligation, to the claims of Civil society. Before any 
man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must 
be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe; 
and if a member of Civil Society who enters into any subordi- 

* Declaration Rights, Article 16. 


nate Association must always do it with a reservation of his 
duty to the General Authority, much more must every man who 
becomes a member of any particular Civil Society do it with a 
saving of his allegiance to the Universal Sovereign, We main 
tain, therefore, that in matters of Religion no man s right is 
abridged by the institution of Civil Society, and that Religion 
is wholly exempt from its cognizance. True it is, that no other 
rule exists by which any question which may divide a Society 
can be ultimately determined than the will of the majority; but 
it is also true that the majority may trespass on the rights of 
the minority. 

2. Because, if Religion be exempt from the authority of the 
Society at large, still less can it be subject to that of the Legis 
lative Body. The latter are but the creatures and vicegerents 
of the former. Their jurisdiction is both derivative and lim 
ited. It is limited with regard to the co-ordinate departments; 
more necessarily is it limited with regard to the constituents. 
The preservation of a free Government requires, not merely 
that the metes and bounds which separate each department of 
power be invariably maintained, but more especially that 
neither of them be suffered to overleap the great Barrier which 
defends the rights of the people. The rulers who are guilty of 
such an encroachment exceed the commission from which they 
derive their authority, and are Tyrants. The people who sub 
mit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor 
by an authority derived from them, and are slaves. 

3. Because it is proper to take alarm at the first experiment 
on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first 
duty of citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the 
late Revolution. The freemen of America did not wait till 
usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entan 
gled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences 
in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying 
the principle. We revere this lesson too much soon to forget 
it. Who does not see that the same authority which can estab 
lish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may estab 
lish, with the same ease, any particular sect of Christians, in 



exclusion of all other sects? that the same authority which can 
force a citizen to contribute three pence only of his property 
for the support of any one establishment, may force him to con 
form to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever? 

4. Because the Bill violates that equality which ought to be 
the basis of every law, and which is more indispensable in pro 
portion as the validity or expediency of any law is more liable 
to be impeached. "If all men are by nature equally free and 
independent,"* all men are to be considered as entering into 
Society on equal conditions; as relinquishing no more, and 
therefore retaining no less, one than another, of their natural 
rights. Above all, are they to be considered as retaining an 
"equal title to the free exercise of Religion according to the 
dictates of conscience. "f Whilst we assert for ourselves a free 
dom to embrace, to profess, and to observe, the Religion which 
we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal free 
dom to them whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence 
which has convinced us. If this freedom be abused, it is an 
offence against God, not against man. To God, therefore, not 
to man, must an account of it be rendered. As the bill violates 
equality by subjecting some to peculiar burdens, so it violates 
the same principle by granting to others peculiar exemptions. 
Are the Quakers and Menonists the only Sects who think a com 
pulsive support of their Religions unnecessary and unwarrant 
able? Can their piety alone be entrusted with the care of 
public worship ? Ought their Religions to be endowed above 
all others with extraordinary privileges, by which proselytes 
may be enticed from all others? We think too favourably of 
the justice and good sense of these denominations to believe 
that they either covet pre-eminences over their fellow-citizens, 
or that they will be seduced by them from the common opposi 
tion to the measure. 

5. Because the Bill implies, either that the civil Magistrate 
is a competent Judge of Religious truths, or that he may em 
ploy Religion as an engine of civil policy. The first is an arro- 

* Declaration Rights, article 1. f Article 16. 



gant pretension, falsified by the contradictory opinions of Rulers 
in all ages, and throughout the world; the second, an unhal 
lowed perversion of the means of salvation. 

6. Because the establishment proposed by the Bill is not 
requisite for the support of the Christian Religion. To say 
that it is, is a contradiction to the Christian Religion itself, for 
every page of it disavows a dependence on the powers of this 
world. It is a contradiction to fact, for it is known that this 
Religion both existed and flourished, not only without the sup 
port of human laws, but in spite of every opposition from them; 
and not only during the period of miraculous aid, but long after 
it had been left to its own evidence and the ordinary care of 
providence. Nay, it is a contradiction in terms; for a Religion 
not invented by human policy must have pre-existed and been 
supported before it was established by human policy. It is, 
moreover, to weaken in those who profess this Religion a pious 
confidence in its innate excellence and the patronage of its 
Author; and to foster in those who still reject it a suspicion 
that its friends are too conscious of its fallacies to trust it to its 
own merits. 

7. Because experience witnesseth that ecclesiastical estab 
lishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of Re 
ligion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen 
Centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on 
trial. What have been its fruits? More or less, in all places, 
pride and indolence in the Clergy; ignorance and servility in 
the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution. En 
quire of the Teachers of Christianity for the ages in which it 
appeared in its greatest lustre; those of every Sect point to the 
ages prior to its incorporation with civil policy. Propose a 
restoration of this primitive state, in which its Teachers de 
pended on the voluntary rewards of their flocks; many of them 
predict its downfall. On which side ought their testimony to 
have greatest weight; when for or when against their interest? 

8. Because the establishment in question is not necessary for 
the support of Civil Government. If it be urged as necessary 
for the support of Civil Government only as it is a means of 


supporting Religion, and it be not necessary for the latter pur 
pose, it cannot be necessary for the former. If Religion be not 
within the cognizance of Civil Government, how can its legal 
establishment be necessary to Civil Government? What in 
fluence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on Civil 
Society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a 
spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; in many 
instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political 
tyranny; in no instance have they been seen the guardians of 
the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the 
public liberty may have found an established Clergy convenient 
auxiliaries. A just Government, instituted to secure and per 
petuate it, needs them not. Such a Government will be best 
supported by protecting every citizen in the enjoyment of his 
Religion with the same equal hand which protects his person 
and his property ; by neither invading the equal rights of any 
Sect, nor suffering any sect to invade those of another. 

Because the proposed establishment is a departure from that 
generous policy which, offering an Asylum to the persecuted 
and oppressed of every Nation and Religion, promised a lustre 
to our country, and an accession to the number of its citizens. 
What a melancholy mark is the Bill of sudden degeneracy! 
Instead of holding forth an Asylum to the persecuted, it is it 
self a signal of persecution. It degrades from the equal rank 
of Citizens all those whose opinions in Religion do not bend to 
those of the Legislative authority. Distant as it may be in its 
present form from the Inquisition, it differs from it only in de 
gree. The one is the first step, the other the last, in the career 
of intolerance. The magnanimous sufferer under this cruel 
scourge in foreign Regions must view the Bill as a Beacon on 
our Coast warning him to seek some other haven, where lib 
erty and philanthropy, in their due extent, may offer a more 
certain repose from his troubles. 

Because it will have a like tendency to banish our citizens. 
The allurements presented by other situations are every day 
thinning their number. To superadd a fresh motive to emigra 
tion by revoking the liberty which they now enjoy would be 

ITS ). 


the same species of folly which has dishonoured and depopulated 
flourishing kingdoms. 

Because it will destroy that moderation and harmony which 
the forbearance of our laws to intermeddle with Religion has 
produced among its several Sects. Torrents of blood have been 
spilt in the old world in consequence of vain attempts of the 
secular arm to extinguish Religious discord by proscribing all 
differences in Religious opinion. Time has at length revealed 
the true remedy. Every relaxation of narrow and rigorous 
policy, wherever it has been tried, has been found to assuage 
the disease. The American theatre has exhibited proofs that 
equal and complete liberty, if it does not wholly eradicate it, 
sufficiently destroys its malignant influence on the health and 
prosperity of the State. If, with the salutary effects of this 
system under our own eyes, we begin to contract the bounds of 
Religious freedom, we know no name which will too severely 
reproach our folly. At least, let warning be taken at the first 
fruits of the threatened innovation. The very appearance of 
the Bill has transformed "that Christian forbearance, love, and 
charity/ * which of late mutually prevailed, into animosities 
and jealousies, which may not soon be appeased. What mis 
chiefs may not be dreaded, should this enemy to the public quiet 
be armed with the force of a law? 

Because the policy of the Bill is adverse to the diffusion of 
the light of Christianity. The first wish of those who enjoy 
this precious gift ought to be, that it may be imparted to the 
whole race of mankind. Compare the number of those who 
have as yet received it with the number still remaining under 
the dominion of false Religions, and how small is the former! 
Does the policy of the Bill tend to lessen the disproportion ? 
No; it at once discourages those who are strangers to the light 
of revelation from coming into the Region of it, and counte 
nances by example the nations who continue in darkness in 
shutting out those who might convey it to them. Instead of 
levelling, as far as possible, every obstacle to the victorious 

* Declaration Rights, Article 16. 

1(58 WORKS OF MADISON. 1785 . 

progress of truth, the Bill, with an ignoble and unchristian ti 
midity, would circumscribe it with a wall of defence against the 
encroachments of error. 

Because attempts to enforce, by legal sanctions, acts obnox 
ious to so great a proportion of citizens, tend to enervate the 
laws in general, and to slacken the bands of Society. If it be 
difficult to execute any law which is not generally deemed neces 
sary or salutary, what must be the case where it is deemed in 
valid and dangerous? And what may be the effect of so striking 
an example of impotency in the Government on its general au 

Because a measure of such singular magnitude and delicacy 
ought not to be imposed without the clearest evidence that it is 
called for by a majority of citizens; and nt) satisfactory method 
is yet proposed by which the voice of the majority in this case 
may be determined, or its influence secured. "The people of 
the respective Counties are, indeed, requested to signify their 
opinion respecting the adoption of the Bill to the next Session 
of the Assembly." But the representation must be made equal 
before the voice either of the Representatives or of the Counties 
will be that of the people. Our hope is, that neither of the for 
mer will, after due consideration, espouse the dangerous prin 
ciple of the Bill. Should the event disappoint us, it will still 
leave us in full confidence that a fair appeal to the latter will 
reverse the sentence against our liberties. 

Because, finally, "the equal right of every Citizen to the free 
exercise of his Religion, according to the dictates of conscience." 
is held by the same tenure with all our other rights. If we 
recur to its origin, it is equally the gift of nature; if we weigh 
its importance, it cannot be less dear to us; if we consult the 
Declaration of those rights "which pertain to the good people 
of Virginia as the basis and foundation of Government,"* it is 
enumerated with equal solemnity, or rather with studied empha 
sis. Either, then, we must say, that the will of the Legislature 
is the only measure of their authority, and that in the plenitude 

* Declaration Rights, title. 

1785. LETTERS. 169 

of that authority they may sweep away all our fundamental 
rights, or that they are bound to leave this particular right 
untouched and sacred. Either we must say, that they may con- 
troul the freedom of the press, may abolish the trial by jury, 
may swallow up the Executive and Judiciary powers of the 
State; nay, that they may despoil us of our very right of suf 
frage, and erect themselves into an independent and hereditary 
Assembly; or we must say, that they have no authority to enact 
into a law the Bill under consideration. 

We, the subscribers, say that the General Assembly of this 
Commonwealth have no such authority. And in order that no 
effort may be omitted on our part against so dangerous an usur 
pation, we oppose to it this remonstrance; earnestly praying, 
as we are in duty bound, that the Supreme Lawgiver of the 
Universe, by illuminating those to whom it is addressed, may, 
on the one hand, turn their councils from every act which would 
affront his holy prerogative, or violate the trust committed to 
them; and on the other, guide them into every measure which 
may be worthy of his blessing, redound to their own praise, and 
establish more firmly the liberties, the prosperity, and the hap 
piness of the Commonwealth. 


ORANGE, August 7th, 1785. 

DEAR SIR, I received the day before yesterday your favour 
of the 26th July. I had previously received the Report on the 
proposed change of the 9th article of the Confederation, trans 
mitted by Col. Grayson; and in my answer to him offered such 
ideas on the subject as then occurred. 

I still think the probability of success or failure ought to 
weigh much with Congress in every recommendation to the 
States; of which probability Congress, in whom information 
from every State centers, can alone properly judge. Viewing 
in the abstract the question whether the power of regulating 
trade, to a certain degree at least, ought to be vested in Con- 


gress, it appears to me not to admit of a doubt but that it 
should be decided in the affirmative. If it be necessary to reg 
ulate trade at all, it surely is necessary to lodge the power 
where trade can be regulated with effect; and experience has 
confirmed what reason foresaw, that it can never be so regula 
ted by the States acting in their separate capacities. They can 
no more exercise this power separately than they could separ 
ately carry on war, or separately form treaties of alliance or 
commerce. The nature of the thing, therefore, proves the for 
mer power, no less than the latter, to be within the reason of 
the federal Constitution. 

Much, indeed, is it to be wished, as I conceive, that no regu 
lations of trade, that is to say, no restrictions on imposts what 
ever, were necessary. A perfect freedom is the system which 
would be my choice. But before such a system will be eligible, 
perhaps, for the United States, they must be out of debt; before 
it will be attainable, all other nations must concur in it. Whilst 
any one of these imposes on our vessels, seamen, <fcc., in their 
ports, clogs from which they exempt their own, we must either 
retort the distinction, or renounce, not merely a just profit, but 
our only defence against the danger which may most easily be 
set us. Are we not at this moment under this very alternative? 
The policy of Great Britain (to say nothing of other nations) 
has shut against us the channels without which our trade with 
her must be a losing one; and she has consequently the triumph, 
as we have the chagrin, of seeing accomplished her prophetic 
threats, that our independence should forfeit commercial advan 
tages for which it would not recompence us with any new chan 
nels of trade. 

What is to be done? Must we remain passive victims to for 
eign politics, or shall we exert the lawful means which our in 
dependence has put into our hands of extorting redress? The 
very question would be an affront to every citizen who loves 
his country. What, then, are these means? Retaliating regu 
lations of trade only. How are these to be effectuated ? Only 
by harmony in the measures of the States. How is this harmony 
to be obtained? Only by an acquiescence of all the States in 

1785. LETTERS. 171 

the opinion of a reasonable majority. If Congress, as they are 
now constituted, cannot be trusted with the power of digesting 
and enforcing this opinion, let them be otherwise constituted; 
let their numbers be increased, let them be chosen oftener, and 
let their period of service be shortened; or if any better medium 
than Congress can be proposed by which the wills of the States 
may be concentered, let it be substituted; or lastly, let no reg 
ulation of trade adopted by Congress be in force until it shall 
have been ratified by a certain proportion of the States. But 
let us not sacrifice the end to the means; let us not rush on cer 
tain ruin in order to avoid a possible danger. 

I conceive it to be of great importance that the defects of the 
federal system should be amended, not only because such amend 
ments will make it better answer the purpose for which it was 
instituted, but because I apprehend danger to its very existence 
from a continuance of defects which expose a part, if not the 
whole, of the empire to severe distress. The suffering part, 
even when the minor part, cannot long respect a Government 
which is too feeble to protect their interests: but when the suf 
fering part comes to be the major part, and they despair of see 
ing a protecting energy given to the General Government, from 
what motives is their allegiance to be any longer expected? 
Should Great Britain persist in the machinations which distress 
us, and seven or eight of the States be hindered by the others 
from obtaining relief by federal means, I own I tremble at the 
anti-federal expedients into which the former may be tempted. 

As to the objection against entrusting Congress with a power 
over trade, drawn from the diversity of interests in the States, 
it may be answered: 1. That if this objection had been listened 
to, no confederation could have ever taken place among the 
States. 2. That if it ought now to be listened to, the power 
held by Congress of forming commercial treaties, by whicji 9 
States may indirectly dispose of the Commerce of the residue, 
ought to be immediately revoked. 3. That the fact is, that a 
case can scarcely be imagined in which it would be the interest 
of any two-thirds of the States to oppress the remaining one- 
third. 4. That the true question is, whether the commercial 

172 WORKS OF MADISON. 1785. 

interests of the States do not meet in more points than they 
differ. To me it is clear that they do; and if they do, there are 
so many more reasons for than against submitting the commer 
cial interest of each State to the direction and care of the ma 

Put the West India trade alone, in which the interest of every 
State is involved, into the scale against all the inequalities which 
may result from any probable regulation by nine States, and 
who will say that the latter ought to preponderate? I have 
heard the different interest which the Eastern States have as 
carriers pointed out as a ground of caution to the Southern 
States, who have no bottoms of their own, against their con 
curring hastily in retaliations on Great Britain. But will the 
present system of Great Britain ever give the Southern States 
bottoms? and if they are not their own carriers, I should sup 
pose it no mark either of folly or incivility to give our custom 
to our brethren, rather than to those who have not yet entitled 
themselves to the name of friends. 

In detailing these sentiments, I have nothing more in view 
than to prove the readiness with which I obey your request. 
As far as they are just, they must have been often suggested in 
the discussions of Congress on the subject. I cannot even give 
them weight by saying that I have reason to believe they would 
be relished in the public Councils of this State. From the trials 
of which I have been a witness, I augur that great difficulties 
will be encountered in every attempt to prevail on the Legisla 
ture to part with power. The thing itself is not only unpala 
table, but the arguments which plead for it have not their full 
force on minds unaccustomed to consider the interests of the 
State as they are interwoven with those of the Confederacy, 
much less as they may be affected by foreign politics; whilst 
those which plead against it are not only specious, but in their 
nature popular, and for that reason sure of finding patrons. 

Add to all this, that the Mercantile interest, which has taken 
the lead in rousing the public attention of other States, is in 
this so exclusively occupied in British Commerce, that what 
little weight they have will be most likely to fall into the oppo- 

1785. LETTERS. 173 

site scale. The only circumstance which promises a favorable 
hearing to the meditated proposition of Congress is, that the 
power which it asks is to be exerted against Great Britain, and 
the proposition will consequently be seconded by the animosities 
which still prevail in a strong degree against her. 

I am, my dear sir, very sincerely, your friend and serv. 


ORANGE, August 20th, 1785. 

DEAR SIR, Yours of the 18th of March never reached me 
till the 4th instant. It came by post from New York, which it 
did not leave till the 21 of July. My last was dated in April, 
and went by Mr. Mazzei, who picked it up at New York and 
promised to deliver it with his own hand. 

The machinations of Great Britain, with regard to commerce, 
have produced much distress and noise in the Northern States, 
particularly in Boston, from whence the alarm has spread to 
New York and Philadelphia. Your correspondence with Con 
gress will no doubt have furnished you with full information on 
this head. I only know the general fact, and that the sufferers 
are everywhere calling for such augmentation of the power of 
Congress as may effect relief. How far the Southern States, 
and Virginia in particular, will join in this proposition, cannot 
be foreseen. It is easy to foresee that the circumstances which, 
in a confined view, distinguish our situation from that of our 
brethren, will be laid hold of by the partizans of Great Britain, 
by those who are or affect to be jealous of Congress, and those 
who are interested in the present course of business, to give a 
wrong bias to our councils. If anything should reconcile Vir 
ginia to the idea of giving Congress a power over her trade, it 
will be that this power is likely to annoy Great Britain, against 
whom the animosities of our citizens are still strong. They 
seem to have less sensibility to their commercial interests, which 


they very little understand, and which the mercantile class here 
have not the same motives, if they had the same capacity, to lay 
open to the public, as that class have in the States North of us. 

The price of our Staple since the peace is another cause of 
inattention in the planters to the dark side of our commercial 
affairs. Should these or any other causes prevail in frustrating 
the scheme of the Eastern and Middle States of a general retal 
iation on Great Britain, I tremble for the event. A majority 
of the States, deprived of a regular remedy for their distresses 
by the want of a federal spirit in the minority, must feel the 
strongest motives to some irregular experiments. The danger 
of such a crisis makes me surmise that the policy of Great 
Britain results as much from the hope of effecting a breach in 
our Confederacy as of monopolizing our trade. 

Our internal trade is taking an arrangement from which I 
hope good consequences. Retail Stores are spreading all over 
the Country; many of them carried on by native adventurers, 
some of them branched out from the principal Stores at the 
heads of navigation. The distribution of the business, however, 
into the importing and the retail departments, has not yet taken 
place. Should the port bill be established, it will, I think, 
quickly add this amendment, which indeed must in a little time 
follow of itself. It is the more to be wished for. as it is the 
only radical cure for credit to the consumer, which continues to 
be given to a degree which, if not checked, will turn the diffu 
sive retail of Merchandize into a nuisance. When the Shop 
keeper buys his goods of the wholesale Merchant, he must buy 
at so short a credit that he can venture to give none at all. 

You ask me to unriddle the dissolution of the Committee of 
the States at Annapolis. I am not sure that I am myself pos 
sessed fully of the causes, different members of Congress having 
differed in their accounts of the matter. My conception of it 
is, that the abrupt departure of some of the Eastern delegates, 
which destroyed the quorum, and which Dana is said to have 
been at the bottom of, proceeded partly from irritations among 
the committee, partly from dislike to the place of their session, 

1785. LETTERS. 175 

and partly from an impatience to get home, which prevailed 
over their regard for their private characters, as well as for 
their public duty. 

Subsequent to the date of mine in which I gave my idea of 
Fayette, I had further opportunities of penetrating his charac 
ter. Though his foibles did not disappear, all the favorable 
traits presented themselves in a stronger light on closer inspec 
tion. He certainly possesses talents which might figure in any 
line. If he is ambitious, it is rather of the praise which virtue 
dedicates to merit, than of the homage which fear renders to 
power; his disposition is naturally warm and affectionate, and 
his attachment to the United States unquestionable. Unless I 
am grossly deceived, you will find his zeal sincere and useful, 
whenever it can be employed in behalf of the United States 
without opposition to the essential interests of France. 

The opposition to the General Assessment gains ground. At 
the instance of some of its adversaries, I drew up the remon 
strance herewith inclosed. It has been sent through the me 
dium of confidential persons in a number of the upper Counties, 
and I am told will be pretty extensively signed. The Presby 
terian clergy have at length espoused the side of the opposition, 
being moved either by a fear of their laity or a jealousy of the 
Episcopalians. The mutual hatred of these sects has been much 
inflamed by the late act incorporating the latter. I am far from 
being sorry for it, as a coalition between them could alone en 
danger our religious rights, arid a tendency to such an event 
had been suspected. The fate of the Circuit Courts is uncertain. 
They are threatened with no small danger from the diversity 
of opinions entertained among the friends of some reform in 
that department. But the greatest danger is to be feared from 
those who mask a secret aversion to any reform under a zeal 
for such a one as they know will be rejected. The Potowmac 
Company are going on with very flattering prospects. Their 
subscriptions some time ago amounted to upward of four-fifths 
of the whole sum. I have the pleasure, also, to find, by an ad 
vertisement from the managers for James River, that more than 
half the sum is subscribed for that undertaking, and that the 


subscribers are to meet shortly for the purpose of organizing 
themselves and going to work. I despair of seeing the Revisal 
taken up at the ensuing session. The number of copies struck 
are so deficient, (there being not above three for each Count} 7 ,) 
and there has been such delay in distributing them, (none of the 
Counties having received them till very lately, and some prob 
ably not yet, though they were ready long ago.) that the prin 
cipal end of their being printed has been frustrated. 

Our fields promise very short crops both of corn and Tobacco. 
The latter was much injured by the grasshopper and other in 
sects; the former, somewhat by the bug in the southern parts of 
the State; but both have suffered most from dry weather, which 
prevails at present in this part of the country, and has generally 
prevailed, I understand, in most other parts. It seems certain 
that no future weather can make a great crop of either, partic 
ularly of Tobacco, so great a proportion of the hills being 
without plants in them, and so many more with plants in them 
which must come to nothing. Notwithstanding this prospect, 
its price has fallen from 36s. to 30s. on James River, and 28s. 
on Rappahannock. The scarcity of cash is one cause. 

Harrison, late Governor, was elected in Surrey, whither he 
previously removed with his family. A contest for the chair 
will no doubt ensue; should he fail, he will be for Congress. 

I have not yet received any of the books which you have been 
so kind as to pick up for me, but expect their arrival daily, as 
you were probably soon after the date of your last apprised 
that 1 was withdrawn from the nomination, which led you to 
suspend the forwarding them. I am invited by Col. Monroe to 
an option of rambles this fall, one of which is into the Eastern 
States. I wish much to accept so favorable an opportunity of 
executing the plan from which I was diverted last fall, but can 
not decide with certainty whether it will be practicable or not. 
I have, in conjunction with a friend here, a project of interest 
on the anvil, which will carry me at least as far as Phil a or New 
York, where I shall be able to take my final resolution. 
Adieu. Yrs sincerely. 

1785. LETTERS. 177 


ORANGE. Augnst 23, 1785. 

DEAE Sra, Your favour of the 12th of July was safely de 
livered to me by Mr. Craig. I accept with pleasure your pro 
posed exchange of Western for Eastern intelligence, and though 
I am a stranger to parental ties, can sufficiently conceive the 
happiness of which they are a source to congratulate you on 
your possession of two fine sons and a daughter. I do not smile 
at the idea of transplanting myself into your wilderness. Such 
a change of my abode is not. indeed, probable, yet I have no 
local partialities which can keep me from any place which prom 
ises the greatest real advantages. But if such a removal was 
not even possible, I should nevertheless be ready to communi 
cate, as you desire, my Ideas towards a constitution of Govern 
ment for the State in embryo. 

I pass over the general policy of the measure which calls for 
such a provision. It has been unanimously embraced by those 
who, being most interested in it, must have best considered it, 
and will, I dare say, be with equal unanimity acceded to by the 
other party, [Congress,] which is to be consulted. I will first 
offer some general remarks on the subject, and then answer 
your several queries. 

1. The Legislative Department ought by all means, as I 
think, to include a Senate, constituted on such principles as will 
give tvisdom and steadiness to legislation. The want of these 
qualities is the grievance complained of in all our republics. 
The want of fidelity in the administration of power having been 
the grievance felt under most governments, and by the Amer 
ican States themselves under the British government, it was 
natural for them to give too exclusive an attention to this pri 
mary attribute. The Senate of Maryland, with a few amend 
ments, is a good model. Trial has, I am told, verified the ex 
pectations from it. A similar one made a part of our Consti 
tution as it was originally proposed, but the inexperience and 
jealousy of our then Councils rejected it in favor of our present 
Senate; a worse could hardly have been substituted; and yet, 

VOL. i. 12 

178 WORKS OF MADISON. 1783. 

Lad as it is, it is often a useful bit in the mouth of the House 
of Delegates. Not a single Session passes without instances of 
sudden resolutions by the latter, of which they repent in time 
to intercede privately with the Senate for their negative. For 
the other branch, models enough may be found; care ought, 
however, to be taken against its becoming too numerous, by fix 
ing the number which it is never to exceed. The quorum, wages, 
and privileges, of both branches, ought also to be fixed. A ma 
jority seems to be the natural quorum. The wages of the mem 
bers may be made payable for years to come, in the medium 
value of wheat for years preceding, as the same shall from 
period to period be rated by a respectable jury appointed for that 
purpose by the Supreme Court. The privileges of the members 
ought not, in my opinion, to extend beyond an exemption of their 
persons and equipage from arrests during the time of their 
actual service. If it were possible, it would be well to define 
the extent of the Legislative power; but the nature of it seems 
in many respects to be indefinite. It is very practicable, how 
ever, to enumerate the essential exceptions. The Constitution 
may expressly restrain them from meddling with religion; from 
abolishing Juries; from taking away the Habeas Corpus; from 
forcing a citizen to give evidence against himself; from controul- 
ing the press; from enacting retrospective laws, at least in crim 
inal cases; from abridging the right of suffrage; from taking 
private property for public use without paying its full value; 
from licensing the importation of slaves; from infringing the 
confederation, <fec., &c. 

As a further security against fluctuating and indigested laws, 
the Constitution of New York has provided a Council of Re 
vision. I approve much of such an institution, and believe it is 
considered by the most intelligent citizens of that State as a 
valuable safeguard both to public interests and to private rights. 
Another provision has been suggested for preserving system in 
Legislative proceedings, which to some may appear still better. 
It is that a standing committee, composed of a few select and 
and skilful individuals, should be appointed to prepare bills on 
all subjects which they may judge proper to be submitted to the 

1785. LETTERS. 179 

Legislature at their meetings, and to draw bills for them during 
their Sessions. As an antidote both to the jealousy and danger 
of their acquiring an improper influence, they might be made 
incapable of holding any other office, Legislative, Executive, or 
Judiciary. I like this suggestion so much that I have had 
thoughts of proposing it to our Assembly, who give almost as 
many proofs as they pass laws of their need of some such assist 

2. The Executive Department. Though it claims the second 
place, it is not in my estimation entitled to it by its importance, 
all the great powers which are properly executive being trans 
ferred to the Federal Government. I have made up no final 
opinion whether the first Magistrate should be chosen by the 
Legislature or the people at large, or whether the power should 
be vested in one man, assisted by a Council, or in a Council, of 
which the President shall be only primus inter pares. There 
are examples of each in the United States; and probably ad 
vantages and disadvantages attending each. It is material, I 
think, that the number of members should be small, and that 
their Salaries should be either unalterable by the Legislature, 
or alterable only in such manner as will not affect any individ 
ual in place. Our Executive is the worst part of a bad Con 
stitution. The members of it are dependent on the Legislature 
not only for their wages, but for their reputation, and therefore 
are not likely to withstand usurpations of that branch; they 
are, besides, too numerous and expensive; their organization 
vague and perplexed; and to crown the absurdity, some of the 
members may, without any new appointment, continue in Office 
for life, contrary to one of the Articles of the Declaration of 

3. The Judiciary Department merits every care. Its efficacy 
is demonstrated in Great Britain, where it maintains private 
right against all the corruptions of the two other Departments, 
and gives a reputation to the whole government which it is not 
in itself entitled to. The main points to be attended to are: 
I. That the Judges should hold their places during good be 
haviour. 2. That their Salaries should be either fixed like the 


wages of the Representatives, or not be alterable so as to affect 
the Individuals in Office. 3. That their Salaries be liberal. 
The first point is obvious; without the second, the independence 
aimed at by the first will be ideal only; without the third, the 
bar will be superior to the bench, which destroys all security 
for a systematic administration of justice. After securing these 
essential points, I should think it unadvisable to descend so far 
into detail as to bar any future modification of this department 
which experience may recommend. An enumeration of the prin 
cipal Courts, with power to the Legislature to institute inferior 
Courts, may suffice. The Admiralty business can never be ex 
tensive in your situation, and may be referred to one of the 
other Courts. With regard to a Court of Chancery, as distinct 
from a Court of Law, the reasons of Lord Bacon on the affirma 
tive side outweigh, in my judgment, those of Lord Kaimes on the 
other side; yet I should think it best to leave this important 
question to be decided by future lights, without tying the hands 
of the Legislature one way or the other. I consider our County 
Courts as on a bad footing, and would never, myself, consent to 
copy them into another Constitution. 

All the States seem to have seen the necessity of providing 
for Impeachments, but none of them to have hit on an unexcep 
tionable tribunal. In some the trial is referred to the Senate, 
in others to the Executive, in others to the Judiciary depart 
ment. It has been suggested that a tribunal composed of mem 
bers from each department would be better than either, and 
I entirely concur in that opinion. I proceed next to your 

1. "Whether is a representation according to numbers, or 
" property, or in a joint proportion to both, the most safe? Or 
" is a representation by Counties preferable to a more equitable 
" mode that will be difficult to adjust?" Under this question 
may be considered: 1. The right of suffrage. 2. The mode of 
suffrage. 3. The plan of representation. As to the first, I 
think the extent which ought to be given to this right a matter 
of great delicacy and of critical importance. To restrain it to 
the land holders will in time exclude too great a proportion of 


citizens; to extend it to all citizens without regard to property, 
or even to all who possess a pittance, may throw too much 
power into hands which will either abuse it themselves or sell 
it to the rich who will abuse it. I have thought it might be a 
good middle course to narrow this right in the choice of the 
least popular, and to enlarge it in that of the more popular 
branch of the Legislature. There is an example of this distinc 
tion in North Carolina, if in none of the other States. How it 
operates or is relished by the people I cannot say. It would 
not be surprising if in the outset, at least, it should offend the 
sense of equality which reigns in a free country. In a general 
view, I see no reason why the rights of property, which chiefly 
bears the burden of Government, and is so much an object of 
Legislation, should not be respected as well as personal rights 
in the choice of Rulers. It must be owned, indeed, that prop 
erty will give influence to the holder, though it should give him 
no legal privileges, and will in general be safe on that as well 
as on other accounts, especially if the business of legislation be 
guarded with the provisions hinted at. 2. As to the mode of 
suffrage, I lean strongly to that of the ballot, notwithstanding 
the objections which lie against it. It appears to me to be the 
only radical cure for those arts of electioneering which poison 
the very fountain of Liberty. The States in which the ballot 
has been the standing mode are the only instances in which 
elections are tolerably chaste and those arts in disgrace. If it 
should be thought improper to fix this mode by the Constitu 
tion, I should think it at least necessary to avoid any constitu 
tional bar to a future adoption of it.* 3. By the plan of rep 
resentation I mean: 1. The classing of the electors. 2. The 
proportioning of the representatives to each class. The first 
cannot be otherwise done than by geographical description, as 
by Counties. The second may easily be done, in the first in 
stance, either by comprising within each County an equal num 
ber of Electors, or by proportioning the number of representa 
tives of each County to its number of Electors. The difficulty 

* The Constitution of New York directs an experiment on this subject. 

182 WORKS OF MADISON. 1785. 

arises from the disproportionate increase of electors in different 
Counties. There seem to be two methods only by which the 
representation can be equalized from time to time. The first is 
to change the bounds of the Counties; the second, to change the 
number of representatives allotted to them, respectively. As 
the former would not only be most troublesome and expensive, 
but would involve a variety of other adjustments, the latter 
method is evidently the best. Examples of a Constitutional 
provision for it exists in several of the States. In some it is to 
be executed periodically; in others, pro re nata. The latter 
seems most accurate and very practicable. I have already in 
timated the propriety of fixing the number of representatives, 
which ought never to be exceeded; I should suppose one hun 
dred and fifty, or even one hundred, might safely be made the 
ne plus ultra for Kentucky. 

2. "Which is to be preferred; an annual, triennial, or septen- 
" nial succession to offices, or frequent elections without limita- 
" tions in choice, or that officers when chosen should continue 
" quamdiu se bene gesserint?" The rule ought no doubt to be 
different in the different departments of power. For one part 
of the Legislature annual elections will, I suppose, be held in 
dispensable; though some of the ablest Statesmen and soundest 
Republicans in the United States are in favor of triennial. The 
great danger in departing from annual elections in this case 
lies in the want of some other natural term to limit the depar 
ture. For the other branch, four or five years may be the period. 
For neither branch does it seem necessary or proper to prohibit 
an indefinite re-eligibility. With regard to the Executive, if 
the elections be frequent, and particularly if made as to any 
member of it by the people at large, a re-eligibility cannot, I 
think, be objected to. If they be unfrequent, a temporary or 
perpetual incapacitation, according to the degree of unfrequency, 
at least in the case of the first Magistrate, may not be amiss. 
As to the Judiciary department, enough has been said; and as 
to the subordinate officers, civil and military, nothing need be 
said more than that a regulation of their appointments may, 
under a few restrictions, be safely trusted to the Legislature. 



3. "How far may the same person with propriety be em- 
u ployed in the different departments of Government in an in- 
" fant country, where the counsel of every individual may be 
" needed?" Temporary deviations from fundamental principles 
are always more or less dangerous. When the first pretext 
fails, those who become interested in prolonging the evil will 
rarely be at a loss for other pretexts. The first precedent, too, 
familiarises the people to the irregularity, lessens their venera 
tion for those fundamental principles, and makes them a more 
easy prey to ambition and self interest. Hence it is that abuses 
of every kind, when once established, have been so often found 
to perpetuate themselves. In this caution, I refer chiefly to an 
improper mixture of the three great Departments within the 
State. A delegation to Congress is, I conceive, compatible 
with either. 

4. " Should there be a periodical review of the Constitution? " 
Nothing appears more eligible in theory, nor has sufficient trial, 
perhaps, been yet made to condemn it in practice. Pennsylva 
nia has alone adopted the expedient. Her citizens are much 
divided on the subject of their Constitution in general, and 
probably on this part of it in particular. I am inclined to think, 
though am far from being certain, that it is not a favorite part 
even with those who are fondest of their Constitution. Another 
plan has been thought of, which might, perhaps, succeed better, 
and would at the same time be a safeguard to the equilibrium 
of the constituent departments of Government. This is, that a 
majority of any two of the three departments should have au 
thority to call a plenipotentiary convention whenever they may 
think their constitutional powers have been violated by the 
other department, or that any material part of the Constitution 
needs amendment. In your situation, I should think it both 
imprudent and indecent not to leave a door open for at least 
one revision of your first establishment imprudent, because 
you have neither the same resources for supporting nor the 
same lights for framing a good establishment now as you will 
have fifteen or twenty years hence indecent, because an hand 
ful of early settlers ought not to preclude a populous country 


from a choice of the Government under which they and their 
posterity are to live. Should your first Constitution be made 
thus temporary, the objections against an intermediate union of 
offices will be proportionally lessened. Should a revision of it 
not be made thus necessary and certain, there will be little 
probability of its being ever revised. Faulty as our Constitu 
tion is, as well with regard to the authority which formed it as 
to the manner in which it is formed, the issue of an experiment 
has taught us the difficulty of amending it. And although the 
issue might have proceeded from the unseasonableness of the 
time, yet it may be questioned whether, at any future time, the 
greater depth to which it will have stricken its roots will not 
counterbalance any more auspicious circumstances for overturn 
ing it. 

5 & G. " Or will it be better unalterably to fix some leading 
44 principles in government, and make it consistent for the Legis- 
11 lature to introduce such changes in lesser matters as may 
become expedient? Can Censors be provided that will im- 
" partially point out deficiences in the Constitution and the 
" violations that may happen?" 

Answers on these points may be gathered from what has been 
already said. 

I have been led to offer my sentiments in this loose form 
rather than to attempt a delineation of such a plan of govern 
ment as would please myself, not only by my ignorance of many 
local circumstances and opinions which must be consulted in 
such a work, but also by the want of sufficient time for it. At 
the receipt of your letter I had other employment, and what I 
now write is in the midst of preparations for a journey of busi 
ness, which will carry me as far as Philadelphia at least, and 
on which I shall set out in a day or two. 

I am sorry that it is not in my power to give you some satis 
factory information concerning the Mississippi. A Minister 
from Spain has been with Congress for some time, and is au 
thorised, as I understand, to treat on whatever subjects may 
concern the two nations. If any explanations or propositions 
have passed between him and the Minister of Congress, they 


are as yet in the list of Cabinet secrets. As soon as any such 
shall be made public and come to my knowledge, I shall take 
the first opportunity of transmitting them. Wishing you and 
your family all happiness, 

I am, D r Sir, your friend and servant. 

The Constitutions of the several States were printed in a 
small volume a year or two ago, by order of Congress. A peru 
sal of them need not be recommended to you. Having but a 
single copy, I cannot supply you. It is not improbable that 
you may be already possessed of one. The revisal of our laws 
by Jefferson, Wythe, and Pendleton, beside their value in im 
proving the legal code, may suggest something worthy of being 
attended to in framing a Constitution. 

[Remarks on Mr. Jefferson s Draught of a Constitution for Virginia,"* sent 
from New York to Mr. John Brown, Kentucky, October 1788 :] 

The term of two years is too short. Six 


years are not more than sufficient. A 
Senate is to withstand the occasional impetuosities of the more 
numerous branch. The members ought, therefore, to derive a 
firmness from the tenure of their places. It ought to supply 
the defect of knowledge and experience incident to the other 
branch; there ought to be time given, therefore, for attaining the 
qualifications necessary for that purpose. It ought, finally, to 
maintain that system and steadiness in public affairs without 
which no government can prosper or be respectable. This can 
not be done by a body undergoing a frequent change of its mem 
bers. A Senate for six years will not be dangerous to liberty; 
on the contrary, it will be one of its best guardians. By cor 
recting the infirmities of popular government, it will prevent 
that disgust against that form which may otherwise produce a 

* Contained in appendix to Notes on Virginia." 


sudden transition to some very different one. It is no secret 
to any attentive and dispassionate observer of the political situ 
ation of the United States, that the real danger to republican 
liberty has lurked in that cause. 

The appointment of Senators by districts seems to be objec 
tionable. A spirit of locality is inseparable from that mode. 
The evil is fully displayed in the County representations, the 
members of which are everywhere observed to lose sight of the 
aggregate interests of the community, and even to sacrifice them 
to the interests or prejudices of their respective constituents. 
In general, these local interests are miscalculated. But it is 
not impossible for a measure to be accommodated to the partic 
ular interests of every County or district, when considered by 
itself, and not so, when considered in relation to each other 
and to the whole State; in the same manner as the interests of 
individuals may be very different in a state of nature and in a 
political union. The most effectual remedy for the local bias 
is to impress on the minds of the Senators an attention to the 
interest of the whole society, by making them the choice of the 
whole Society, each citizen voting for every Senator. The objec 
tion here is, that the fittest characters would not be sufficiently 
known to the people at large. But, in free governments, merit 
and notoriety of character are rarely separated; and such a 
regulation would connect them more and more together. Should 
this mode of election be on the whole not approved, that estab 
lished in Maryland presents a valuable alternative. The latter 
affords, perhaps, a greater security for the selection of merit. 
The inconveniences chargeable on it are two: first, that the 
Council of electors favors cabal. Against this, the shortness 
of its existence is a good antidote. Secondly, that in a large 
State the meeting of the electors must be expensive if they be 
paid, or badly attended if the service is onerous. To this it 
may be answered that, in a case of such vast importance, the 
expense, which could not be great, ought to be disregarded. 
Whichever of these modes may be preferred, it cannot be amiss 
so far to admit the plan of districts as to restrain the choice to 
persons residing in different parts of the State. Such a regula- 


tion will produce a diffusive confidence in the body, which is 
not less necessary than the other means of rendering it useful. 
In a State having large towns which can easily unite their 
votes, the precaution would be essential to an immediate choice 
by the people at large. In Maryland no regard is paid to resi 
dence, and, what is remarkable, vacancies are filled by the Sen 
ate itself. This last is an obnoxious expedient, and cannot in 
any point of view have much effect. It was probably meant to 
obviate the trouble of occasional meetings of the electors. But 
the purpose might have been otherwise answered by allowing 
the unsuccessful candidates to supply vacancies according to the 
order of their standing on the list of votes, or by requiring pro 
visional appointments to be made along with the positive ones. 
If an election by districts be unavoidable, and the ideas here 
suggested be sound, the evil will be diminished in proportion 
to the extent given to the districts, taking two or more Sena 
tors from each district. 

The first question arising here is how 

Electors. , 

far property ought to be made a qualifica 
tion. There is a middle way to be taken, which corresponds at 
once with the theory of free government and the lessons of ex 
perience. A freehold or equivalent of a certain value may be 
annexed to the right of voting for Senators, and the right left 
more at large in the election of the other House. Examples of 
this distinction may be found in the Constitutions of several 
States, particularly, if I mistake not, of North Carolina and 
New York. This middle mode reconciles and secures the two 
cardinal objects of government, the rights of persons and the 
rights of property. The former will be sufficiently guarded by 
one branch, the latter more particularly by the other. Give all 
power to property, and the indigent will be oppressed. Give it 
to the latter, and the effect may be transposed. Give a defen 
sive share to each, and each will be secure. The necessity of 
thus guarding the rights of property was, for obvious reasons, 
unattended to in the commencement of the Revolution. In all 
the governments which were considered as beacons to republi- 

138 WORKS OF MADISON. 1785. 

can patriots and lawgivers, the rights of persons were subjected 
to those of property. The poor were sacrificed to the rich. In 
the existing state of American population and of American 
property, the two classes of rights were so little discriminated, 
that a provision for the rights of persons was supposed to in 
clude of itself those of property; and it was natural to infer, 
from the tendency of republican laws, that these different inter 
ests would be more and more identified. Experience and in 
vestigation have, however, produced more correct ideas on this 
subject. It is now observed that in all populous countries the 
smaller part only can be interested in preserving the rights of 
property. It must be foreseen that America, and Kentucky it 
self, will by degrees arrive at this state of society; that in some 
parts of the Union a very great advance is already made to 
wards it. It is well understood that interest leads to injustice, 
as well where the opportunity is presented to bodies of men as 
to individuals; to an interested majority in a Republic, as to 
the interested minority in any other form of government. The 
time to guard against this danger is at the first forming of the 
Constitution, and in the present state of population, when the 
bulk of the people have a sufficient interest in possession or in 
prospect to be attached to the rights of property, without being 
insufficiently attached to the rights of persons. Liberty, not 
less than justice, pleads for the policy here recommended. If 
all power be suffered to slide into hands not interested in the 
rights of property, which must be the case whenever a majority 
fall under that description, one of two things cannot fail to hap 
pen; either they will unite against the other description and 
become the dupes and instruments of ambition, or their poverty 
and dependence will render them the mercenary instruments of 
wealth. In either case liberty will be subverted: in the first, 
by a despotism growing out of anarchy; in the second, by an 
oligarchy founded on corruption. 

The second question under this head is, whether the ballot 
be not a better mode than that of voting viva voce. The com 
parative experience of the States pursuing the different modes 


is in favor of the first. It is found less difficult to guard against 
fraud in that than against bribery in the other. 

Does not the exclusion of Ministers of 
the Gospel, as such, violate a fundamental 
principle of liberty, by punishing a religious profession with the 
privation of a civil right? Does it not violate another article 
of the plan itself, which exempts religion from the cognizance 
of Civil power? Does it not violate justice, by at once taking 
away a right and prohibiting a compensation for it? Does it 
not, in line, violate impartiality, by shutting the door against the 
Ministers of one religion and leaving it open for those of every 

The re-eligibility of members after accepting offices of profit 
is so much opposed to the present way of thinking in America, 
that any discussion of the subject would probably be a waste of 

It is at least questionable whether death 

Limits of power. i . i r> T , -, 

ought to be confined to treason and mur 
der." It would not, therefore, be prudent to tie the hands of 
government in the manner here proposed. The prohibition of 
pardon, however specious in theory, would have practical con 
sequences which render it inadmissible. A single instance is a 
sufficient proof. The crime of treason is generally shared by a 
number, and often a very great number. It would be politically 
if not morally wrong to take away the lives of all, even if every 
individual were equally guilty. What name would be given to 
a severity which made no distinction between the legal and the 
moral offence; between the deluded multitude and their wicked 
leaders? A second trial would not avoid the difficulty: because 
the oaths of the jury would not permit them to hearken to any 
voice but the inexorable voice of the law. 

The power of the Legislature to appoint any other than their 
own officers departs too far from the theory which requires a 
separation of the great departments of government. One of the 
best securities against the creation of unnecessary offices or ty 
rannical powers is an exclusion of the authors from all share 
in filling the one, or influence in the execution of the other. 

190 WORKS OF MADISON. 1785. 

The proper mode of appointing to offices will fall under another 

An election by the Legislature is liable 

Executive Governor. . J 

to insuperable objections. It not only 
tends to faction, intrigue, and corruption, but leaves the Exec 
utive under the influence of an improper obligation to that De 
partment. An election by the people at large, as in this* and 
several other States, or by electors, as in the appointment of 
the Senate in Maryland, or, indeed, by the people, thro any other 
channel than their legislative representatives, seems to be far 
preferable. The ineligibility a second time, tho not perhaps 
without advantages, is also liable to a variety of strong objec 
tions. It takes away one powerful motive to a faithful and 
useful administration, the desire of acquiring that title to a re- 
appointment. By rendering a periodical change of men neces 
sary, it discourages beneficial undertakings, which require per 
severance and system, or, as frequently happened in the Roman 
Consulate, either precipitates or prevents the execution of them. 
It may inspire desperate enterprises for the attainment of what 
is not attainable by legitimate means. It fetters the judgment 
and inclination of the community; and in critical moments 
would either produce a violation of the Constitution or exclude 
a choice which might be essential to the public safety. Add to 
the whole, that by putting the Executive Magistrate in the sit 
uation o.f the tenant of an unrenewable lease, it would tempt 
him to neglect the constitutional rights of his department, and 
to connive at usurpations by the Legislative department, with 
which he may connect his future ambition or interest. 

The clause restraining the first magistrate from the immedi 
ate command of the military force would be made better by 
excepting cases in which he should receive the sanction of the 
two branches of the Legislature. 

Council of State. The followin g variations are suggested : 

1. The election to be made by the people 

immediately, or thro some other medium than the Legislature. 

* New York, where these remarks were penned. 


2. A distributive choice should perhaps be secured, as in the 
case of the Senate. 3. Instead of an ineligibility a second 
time, a rotation in the Federal Senate, with an abridgment of 
the term, to be substituted. 

The appointment to offices is, of all the functions of Republi 
can, and perhaps every other form of government, the most dif 
ficult to guard against abuse. Give it to a numerous body, and 
you at once destroy all responsibility, and create a perpetual 
source of faction and corruption. Give it to the Executive 
wholly, and it may be made an engine of improper influence and 
favoritism. Suppose the power were divided thus : let the Ex 
ecutive alone make all the subordinate appointments, and the 
Governor and Seriate, as in the Federal Constitution, those of 
the superior order. It seems particularly fit that the Judges, 
who are to form a distinct department, should owe their offices 
partly to each of the other departments, rather than wholly to 

. Much detail ought to be avoided in the 

Constitutional regulation of this Depart 
ment, that there may be room for changes which may be de 
manded by the progressive changes in the state of our popula 
tion. It is at least doubtful whether the number of courts, the 
number of Judges, or even the boundaries of jurisdiction, ought 
to be made unalterable but by a revisal of the Constitution. 
The precaution seems no otherwise necessary than as it may 
prevent sudden modifications of the establishment, or addition 
of obsequious judges, for the purpose of evading the checks of 
the Constitution and giving effect to some sinister policy of the 
Legislature. But might not the same object be otherwise at 
tained? by prohibiting, for example, any innovations in those 
particulars without the consent of that department? or without 
the annual sanction of two or three successive Assemblies, over 
and above the other pre-requisites to the passage of a law ? 

The model here proposed for a Court of Appeals is not rec 
ommended by experience. It is found, as might well be pre 
sumed, that the members are always warped in their appellate 
decisions by an attachment to the principles and jurisdiction of 

192 WORKS OF MADISON. 178 .. 

their respective Courts, and still more so by the previous de 
cision on the case removed by appeal. The only efficient cure 
for the evil is to form a Court of Appeals of distinct and select 
Judges. The expense ought not to be admitted as an objection : 
1. Because the proper administration of justice is of too essen 
tial a nature to be sacrificed to that consideration. 2. The 
number of inferior judges might, in that case, be lessened. 3. 
The whole department may be made to support itself by a judi 
cious tax on law proceedings. 

The excuse for non-attendance would be a more proper sub 
ject of enquiry somewhere else than in the Court to which the 
party belonged. Delicacy, mutual convenience, &c., would soon 
reduce the regulation to mere form; or if not, it might become 
a disagreeable source of little irritations among the members. 
A certificate from the local Court, or some other local author 
ity, where the party might reside or happen to be detained from 
his duty, expressing the cause of absence, as well as that it was 
judged to be satisfactory, might be safely substituted. Few 
Judges would improperly claim their wages if such a formality 
stood in the way. These observations are applicable to the 
Council of State. 

A Court of Impeachment is among the most puzzling articles 
of a Republican Constitution; and it is far more easy to point 
out defects in any plan than to supply a cure for them. The 
diversified expedients adopted in the Constitutions of the sev 
eral States prove how much the compilers were embarrassed on 
this subject. The plan here proposed varies from all of them, 
and is, perhaps, not less than any, a proof of the difficulties 
which pressed the ingenuity of its author. The remarks arising 
on it are: 1. That it seems not to square with reason that the 
right to impeach should be united to that of trying the impeach 
ment, and consequently, in a proportional degree, to that of 
sharing in the appointment of or influence on the Tribunal to 
which the trial may belong. 2. As the Executive and Judi 
ciary would form a majority of the Court, and either have a 
right to impeach, too much might depend on a combiuation of 
these departments. This objection would be still stronger if 


the members of the Assembly were capable, as proposed, of 
holding offices, and were amenable in that capacity to the 
Court. 3. The House of Delegates and either of those depart 
ments could appoint a majority of the Court. Here is another 
danger of combination, and the more to be apprehended, as that 
branch of the Legislature would also have the right to impeach, 
a right in their hands of itself sufficiently weighty; and as the 
power of the Court would extend to the head of the Executive, 
by whose independence the constitutional rights of that Depart 
ment are to be secured against legislative usurpations. 4. The 
dangers in the two last cases would be still more formidable, 
as the power extends not only to deprivation, but to future in 
capacity of office. In the case of all officers of sufficient impor 
tance to be objects of factious persecution, the latter branch of 
power is, in every view, of a delicate nature. In that of the 
Chief Magistrate, it seems inadmissible if he be chosen by the 
Legislature, and much more so if immediately by the people 
themselves. A. temporary incapacitation is the most that could 
be properly authorised. 

The two great desiderata in a Court of Impeachments are: 
1. Impartiality. 2. Respectability; the first in order to a right, 
the second in order to a satisfactory decision. These character 
istics are aimed at in the following modification: Let the Sen 
ate be denied the right to impeach. Let one-third of the mem 
bers be struck out, by alternate nominations of the prosecutors 
and party impeached; the remaining two-thirds to be the stamen 
of the Court. When the House of Delegates impeach, let the 
Judges, or a certain proportion of them, and the Council of 
State, be associated in the trial; when the Governor or Council 
impeaches, let the Judges only be associated; when the Judges 
impeach, let the Council only be associated. But if the party 
impeached by the House of Delegates be a member of the Ex 
ecutive or Judiciary, let that of which he is a member not 
be associated. If the party impeached belong to one and 
be impeached by the other of these branches, let neither of 
them be associated, the decision being in this case left with the 
Senate alone; or if that be thought exceptionable, a few mem- 

VOL. i. 13 


bers might be added by the House of Delegates. Two-thirds 
of the Court should in all cases be necessary to a conviction, 
and the Chief Magistrate, at least, should be exempt from a sen 
tence of perpetual, if not of temporary incapacity. It is ex 
tremely probable that a critical discussion of this outline may 
discover objections which do not occur. Some do occur; but 
appear not to be greater than are incident to any different mod 
ification of the Tribunal. 

The establishment of trials by jury and viva voce testimony, 
in all cases and in all Courts, is, to say the least, a delicate ex 
periment; and would most probably be either violated, or be 
found inconvenient. 

A revisionary power is meant as a check 

Council of Revision. . 

to precipitate, to unjust, and to unconsti 
tutional laws. These important ends would, it is conceded, be 
more effectually secured, without disarming the Legislature of 
its requisite authority, by requiring bills to be separately com 
municated to the Executive and Judiciary departments. If 
either of these object, let two-thirds, if both, three-fourths, of 
each House be necessary to overrule the objection; and if either 
or both protest against a bill as violating the Constitution, let 
it moreover be suspended, notwithstanding the overruling pro 
portion of the Assembly, until there shall have been a subse 
quent election of the House of Delegates and a re-passage of 
the bill by two-thirds or three-fourths of both houses, as the case 
may be. It should not be allowed the Judges or the Executive 
to pronounce a law thus enacted unconstitutional and invalid. 

In the State Constitutions, and, indeed, in the Federal one 
also, no provision is made for the case of a disagreement in ex 
pounding them; and as the Courts are generally the last in 
making the decision, it results to them, by refusing or not re 
fusing to execute a law, to stamp it with its final character. 
This makes the Judiciary department paramount in fact to the 
Legislature, which was never intended and can never be proper. 

The extension of the Habeas Corpus to the cases in which it 
has been usually suspended merits consideration at least. If 
there be emergencies which call for such a suspension, it can 

1785. LETTERS. 195 

have no effect to prohibit it, because the prohibition will as 
suredly give way to the impulse of the moment; or rather, it 
will have the bad effect of facilitating other violations that may 
be less necessary. The exemption of the press from liability in 
every case for true facts is also an innovation, and, as such, 
ought to be well considered. This essential branch of liberty 
is, perhaps, in more danger of being interrupted by local tumults, 
or the silent awe of a predominant party, than by any direct 
attacks of power. 


PHILADELPHIA, October 3d, 1785. 

DEAR Sra, In pursuance of the plan intimated in my last, I 
came to this city about three weeks ago, from which I contin 
ued my trip to New York. I returned last night, and in a day 
or two shall start for Virginia. Col. Monroe had left Phil 
adelphia a few days before I reached it, on his way to a treaty 
to be held with the Indians about the end of this month on the 
Wabash. If a visit to the Eastern States had been his choice, 
short as the time would have proved, I should have made an 
effort to attend him. As it is, I must postpone that gratifica 
tion, with a purpose, however, of embracing it on the first con 
venient opportunity. 

Your favor of the 11 May, by Mons r Doradour, inclosing 
your cypher, arrived in Virginia after I left it, and was sent 
after me to this place. Your notes which accompanied it re 
mained behind, and consequently I can only now say on that 
subject that I shall obey your request on my return, which iny 
call to Richmond will give me an early opportunity of doing. 

During my stay at New York I had several conversations 
with the Virginia Delegates, but with few others, on the affairs 
of the confederacy. I find with much regret that these are, as 
yet, little redeemed from the confusion which has so long mor 
tified the friends to our national honor and prosperity. Con 
gress have kept the vessel from sinking, but it has been by 

196 WORKS OF MADISON. 1785. 

standing constantly at the pump, not by stopping the leaks 
which have endangered her. All their efforts for the latter 
purpose have been frustrated by the selfishness or perverseness 
of some part or other of their constituents. The desiderata 
most strongly urged by our past experience and our present 
situation are: 1. A final discrimination between such of the 
unauthorised expences of the States as ought to be added to the 
common debt, and such as ought not. 2. A constitutional ap 
portionment of the common debt, either by a valuation of the 
lands, or a change of the article which requires it. 3. A rec 
ognition by the States of the authority of Congress to enforce 
payment of their respective quotas. 4. A grant to Congress 
of an adequate power over trade. 

It is evident to me that the first object will never be effected 
in Congress, because it requires in those who are to decide it 
the spirit of impartial judges, whilst the spirit of those who 
compose Congress is rather that of advocates for the respective 
interests of their constituents. If this business were referred 
to a commission filled by a member chosen by Congress out of 
each State, and sworn to impartiality, I should have hopes of 
seeing an end of it. The 2 d object affords less ground of hope. 
The execution of the 8 th article of Confederation is generally 
held impracticable, and Rhode Island, if no other State, has put 
its veto on the proposed alteration of it. Until the 3 d object 
can be obtained, the Requisitions of Congress will continue to 
be mere calls for voluntary contributions, which every State 
will be tempted to evade, by the uniform experience that those 
States have come off best which have done so most. The pres 
ent plan of federal Government reverses the first principle of 
all Government. It punishes not the evil-doers, but those that 
do well. It may be considered, I think, as a fortunate circum 
stance for the United States, that the use of coercion, or such 
provision as would render the use of it unnecessary, might be 
made at little expence and perfect safety. A single frigate 
under the orders of Congress could make it the interest of any 
one of the Atlantic States to pay its just quota. With regard 
to such of the ultramontane States as depend on the trade of 

1785. LETTERS. 197 

the Mississippi, as small a force would have the same effect; 
whilst the residue trading through the Atlantic States might be 
wrought upon by means more indirect, indeed, but perhaps suf 
ficiently effectual. 

The fate of the 4 tb object is still suspended. The Recom 
mendations of Congress on this subject, past before your depart 
ure, have been positively complied with by few of the States, I 
believe; but I do not learn that they have been rejected by any. 
A proposition has been agitated in Congress, and will, I am 
told, be revived, asking from the States a general and perma 
nent authority to regulate trade, with a proviso that it shall in 
no case be exercised without the assent of eleven States in Con 
gress. The Middle States favor the measure; the Eastern are 
zealous for it; the Southern are divided. Of the Virginia del 
egation, the president* is an inflexible adversary, Grayson un 
friendly, and Monroe and Hardy warm on the opposite side. 
If the proposition should pass Congress, its fate will depend 
much on the reception it may find in Virginia, and this will de 
pend much on the part which may be taken by a few members 
of the Legislature. The prospect of its being levelled against 
Great Britain will be most likely to give it popularity. 

In this suspence of a general provision for our commercial 
interests, the more suffering States are seeking relief from par 
tial efforts, which are less likely to obtain it than to drive their 
trade into other channels, and to kindle heart-burnings on all 
sides. Massachusetts made the beginning; Pennsylvania has 
followed with a catalogue of duties on foreign goods and ton 
nage, which could scarcely be enforced against the smuggler, if 
New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland, were to co-operate with 
her. The avowed object of these duties is to encourage domes 
tic manufactures, and prevent the exportation of coin to pay 
for foreign. The Legislature had previously repealed the in 
corporation of the Bank, as the cause of the latter and a great 
many other evils. South Carolina, I am told, is deliberating 
on the distresses of her commerce, and will probably concur in 

* R. H. Lee. 

198 WORKS OF MADISON. 1785. 

some general plan, with a proviso, no doubt, against any re 
straint from importing slaves, of which they have received from 
Africa since the peace about twelve Thousand. She is also de 
liberating on the emission of paper money, and it is expected 
she will legalize a supension of Judicial proceedings, which has 
been already effected by popular combinations. The pretext 
for these measures is the want of specie occasioned by the un 
favorable balance of trade. 

Your introduction of Mr. T. Franklin has been presented to 
me. The arrival of his Grandfather has produced an emulation 
among the different parties here in doing homage to his char 
acter. He will be unanimously chosen president of the State, 
and will either restore to it an unexpected quiet or lose his 
own. It appears, from his answer to some applications, that he 
will not decline the appointment. 

On my journey I called at Mount Vernon, and had the pleas 
ure of finding the General in perfect health. He had just re 
turned from a trip up the Potomac. He grows more and more 
sanguine as he examines further into the practicability of open 
ing its navigation. The subscriptions are completed within a 
few shares, and the work is already begun at some of the lesser 
obstructions. It is overlooked by Rumsey, the inventor of the 
boats, which I have in former letters mentioned to you. He 
has not yet disclosed his secret. He had of late nearly finished 
a boat of proper size, which he meant to have exhibited, but the 
House which contained it and materials for others was con 
sumed by fire. He assured the General that the enlargement 
of his machinery did not lessen the prospect of utility afforded 
by the miniature experiments. The General declines the shares 
voted him by the Assembly, but does not mean to withdraw the 
money from the object which it is to aid, and will even appro 
priate the future tolls, I believe, to some useful public estab 
lishment, if any such can be devised that will both please him 
self and be likely to please the State. 

This is accompanied by a letter from our amiable friend, Mrs. 
Trist, to Miss Patsy. She got back safe to her friends in Au 
gust, and is as well as she has generally been; but her cheerful- 

1785. LETTERS. 199 

ness seems to be rendered less uniform than it once was by the 
scenes of adversity through which fortune has led her. Mrs. 
House is well, and charges me not to omit her respectful ana 
affectionate compliments to you. 

I remain, dear sir, yours. 


RICHMOND, Nov r llth, 1785. 

DEAR SIR, I received your favor of the 29th ultimo on Thurs 
day. That by Col. Lee had been previously delivered. Your 
letter for the Assembly was laid before them yesterday. I have 
reason to believe that it was received with every sentiment 
which could correspond with yours. Nothing passed from which 
any conjecture could be formed as to the objects which would 
be most pleasing for the appropriation of the fund. The dispo 
sition is, I am persuaded, much stronger to acquiesce in your 
choice, whatever it may be, than to lead or anticipate it. I see 
no inconveniency in your taking time for a choice that will 
please yourself. The letter was referred to a committee, which 
will no doubt make such a report as will give effect to your 

Our Session commenced very inauspiciously with a contest 
for the chair, which was followed by a rigid scrutiny into Mr. 
Harrison s election in his County. He gained the chair by a 
majority of six votes, and retained his seat by a majority of still 
fewer. His residence was the point on which the latter ques 
tion turned. Doctor Lee s election was questioned on a simi 
lar point, and was also established; but it was held to be va 
cated by his acceptance of a lucrative post under the United 
States. The House have engaged with some alacrity in the 
consideration of the Revised Code, prepared by Mr. Jefferson. 
Mr. Pendleton, and Mr. Wythe. The present temper promises 
an adoption of it in substance. The greatest danger arises 
from its length, compared with the patience of the members. If 

200 WORKS OF MADISON. 1785. 

it is persisted in, it must exclude several matters which are of 
moment, but, I hope, only for the present Assembly. The pulse 
of the House of Delegates was felt on Thursday with regard to 
a general manumission, by a petition presented on that subject. 
It was rejected without dissent, but not without an avowed 
patronage of its principle by sundry respectable members. A 
motion was made to throw it under the table, which was treated 
with as much indignation on one side as the petition itself was 
on the other. There are several petitions before the House 
against any step towards freeing the Slaves, and even praying 
Tor a repeal of the law which licences particular manumissions. 

The merchants of several of our towns have made representa 
tions on the distress of our commerce, which have raised the 
question whether relief shall be attempted by a reference to 
Congress, or by measures within our own compass. On a pretty 
full discussion, it was determined by a large majority that the 
power over trade ought to be vested in Congress, under certain 
qualifications. If the qualifications suggested, and no others, 
should be annexed, I think they will not be subversive of the 
principle; tho they will, no doubt, lessen its utility. The 
Speaker, Mr. M. Smith, and Mr. Braxton, are the champions 
against Congress. Mr. Thruston and Mr. White have since 
come in, and I fancy I may set down both as auxiliaries. 

They are not a little puzzled, however, by the difficulty of 
substituting any practicable regulations within ourselves. Mr. 
Braxton proposed two, that did not much aid his side of the 
question. The first was, that all British vessels from the West 
Indies should be excluded from our ports; the second, that no 
merchant should carry on trade here until he should have been 

a resident years. Unless some plan free from objection 

can be devised for this State, its patrons will be reduced clearly 
to the dilemma of acceding to a general one, or leaving our 
trade under all its present embarrassments. There was some 
little skirmishing on the ground of public faith, which leads me 
to hope that its friends have less to fear than was surmised. 
The Assize and Port Bills have not yet been awakened. Tho 
Senate will make a House to-day for the first time. 


Inclosed herewith are two Reports from the commissioners 
for examining the head of James River, &c., and the ground 
between the waters of Elizabeth River and North Carolina; 
also, a sensible pamphlet said to be written by St. George 

[Notes of a speech made by Mr. Madison in the House of Delegates of Vir 
ginia, in the month of November, 1785, on the question of vesting in Congress 
the general power of regulating commerce for all the States :] 

I. General regulations necessary, whether the object be to 

1. Counteract foreign plans. 

2. Encourage ships and seamen. 

3. manufactures. 

4. Revenue. 

5. Frugality; [articles of luxury most easily run from State 
to State.] 

6. Embargo s in war Case of Delaware in late war. 

II. Necessary to prevent contention among States. 

1. Case of French Provinces; Neckar says 23,000 patrols 
employed against internal contrabands. 

2. Case of Massachusetts and Connecticut. 

3. Case of New York and New Jersey. 

4. Pennsylvania and Delaware. 

5. Virginia and Maryland, late regulation. 

6. Irish propositions. 

III. Necessary to justice and true policy. 

1. Connecticut and New Hampshire. 

2. New Jersey. 

3. North Carolina. 

4. Western Country. 

IV. Necessary as a system convenient and intelligible to for 
eigners trading to the United States. 

V. Necessary as within reason of Federal Constitution, the 
regulation of trade being as impracticable by States as peace, 
war, ambassadors, &c. 


Treaties of commerce ineffectual without it. 

VI. Safe with regard to the liberties of the States. 

1. Congress may be trusted with trade as well as war, &c. 

2. Power of Treaties involve the danger, if any. 

3. Controul of States over Congress. 

4. Example of Amphyctionic League, Achaean, <fcc., Switzer 
land, Holland, Germany. 

5. Peculiar situation of United States increases the repellant 
power of the States. 

VII. Essential to preserve federal Constitution. 

1. Declension of federal Government. 

2. Inadequacy to end must lead States to substitute some 
other policy no institution remaining long when it ceases to 
be useful, &c. 

3. Policy of Great Britain to weaken Union. 

VIII. Consequences of dissolution of confederacy. 

1. Appeal to sword in every petty squabble. 

2. Standing armies, beginning with weak and jealous States. 

3. Perpetual taxes. 

4. Sport of foreign politics. 

5. Blast glory of Revolution. 


RICHMOND, Nov. 15th, 1785. 

DEAR SIR, I acknowledged from Philadelphia your favor 
of the llth May. On my return to Orange, I found the copy 
of your notes brought along with it by Mr. Doradour. I have 
looked them over carefully myself, and consulted several judi 
cious friends in confidence. We are all sensible that the free 
dom of your strictures on some particular measures and opinions 
will displease their respective abettors. But we equally con 
cur in thinking that this consideration ought not to be weighed 
against the utility of your plan. We think both the facts and 
remarks which you have assembled too valuable not to be made 
known, at least to those for whom you destine them, and speak 

1785. LETTERS. 203 

of them to one another in terms which I must not repeat to y@u. 
Mr. "Wythe suggested that it might be better to put the number 
you may allot to the University into the library, rather than to 
distribute them among the students. In the latter case, the 
stock will be immediately exhausted. In the former, the dis 
cretion of the professors will make it serve the students as they 
successively come in. Perhaps, too, an indiscriminate gift might 
offend some narrow-minded parents. 

Mr. Wythe desired me to present you with his most friendly 
regards. He mentioned the difficulty he experiences in using 
his pen as an apology for not giving these assurances himself. 
I postpone my account of the Assembly till I can make it more 
satisfactory, observing only that we are at work on the Revi- 
sal, and I am not without hopes of seeing it pass this session, 
with as few alterations as could be expected. Some are made 
unavoidable by a change of circumstances. The greatest dan 
ger is to be apprehended from the impatience which a certain 
lapse of time always produces. 


RICHMOND, December 9th, 1785. 

DEAR SIR, Supposing that you will be at New York by the 
time this reaches it, I drop a few lines for the post of to-day. 
Mr. Jones tells me he informed you that a substitute had been 
brought forward to the commercial propositions which you left 
on the carpet. The subject has not since been called up. If 
any change has taken place in the mind of the House, it has not 
been unfavorable to the idea of confiding to Congress a power 
over trade. I am far from thinking, however, that a perpetual 
power can be made palatable at this time. It is more probable 
that the other idea of a Convention of Commissioners to An 
napolis, from the States, for deliberating on the state of com 
merce and the degree of power which ought to be lodged in 
Congress, will be attempted. Should it fail in the House, it is 
possible that a revival of the printed propositions, with an ex- 

204 WORKS OF MADISON. 1783. 

tension of their term to twenty-five years, will be thought on 
by those who contend that something of a general nature ought 
to be done. My own opinion is unaltered. The propositions 
for a State effort have passed, and a bill is ordered in, but the 
passage of the bill will be a work of difficulty and uncertainty; 
many having acquiesced in the preliminary stages who will 
strenuously oppose the measure in its last stages. 

No decisive vote has been yet taken on the assize bill. I 
conceive it to be in some danger, but that the chance is in its 
favour. The case of the British debts will be introduced in a 
day or two. We have got through more than half of the Revi- 
sal. The criminal bill has been assailed on all sides. Mr. 
Mercer has proclaimed unceasing hostility against it. Some 
alterations have been made, and others probably will be made, 
but I think the main principle of it will finally triumph over all 
opposition. I had hoped that this session would have finished 
the code, but a vote against postponing the further considera 
tion of it till the next was carried by so small a majority, that 
I perceive it will be necessary to contend for nothing more 
than a few of the more important bills, leaving the residue of 
them for another year. 

My proposed amendment to the report on the Memorial of 
Kentucky was agreed to in a Committee of the whole without 
alteration, and with very few dissents. It lies on the table for 
the ratification of the House. The members from that district 
have become extremely cold on the subject of an immediate sep 
aration. The half tax is postponed till March, and the Septem 
ber tax till November next. Not a word has passed in the 
House as to a paper emission. I wish to hear from you on your 
arrival at New York, and to receive, in particular, whatever 
you may be at liberty to disclose with regard to the Treaty of 
peace, &c., with Great Britain. 

1785. LETTERS. 205 


RICHMOND, December 9th, 1785. 

DEAR SIR, Your favor of November 30 was received a few 
days ago. This would have followed much earlier the one 
which yours acknowledges, had I not wished it to contain some 
final information relative to the commercial propositions. The 
discussion of them has consumed much time, and though the 
absolute necessity of some such general system prevailed over 
all the efforts of its adversaries in the first instance, the strata 
gem of limiting its duration to a short term has ultimately dis 
appointed our hopes. I think it better to trust to further ex 
perience, and even distress, for an adequate remedy, than to try 
a temporary measure, which may stand in the way of a perma 
nent one, and confirm that transatlantic policy which is founded 
on our supposed distrust of Congress and of one another. 

Those whose opposition in this case did not spring from illib 
eral animosities towards the Northern States seem to have been 
frightened, on one side, at the idea of a perpetual and irrevocable 
grant of power, and, on the other, nattered with a hope that a 
temporary grant might be renewed from time to time, if its 
utility should be confirmed by the experiment. But we have 
already granted perpetual and irrevocable powers of a more 
extensive nature than those now proposed, and for reasons not 
stronger than the reasons which urge the latter. And as to the 
hope of renewal, it is the most visionary one that perhaps ever 
deluded men of sense. 

Nothing but the peculiarity of our circumstances could ever 
have produced those sacrifices of sovereignty on which the fed 
eral Government now rests. If they had been temporary, and 
the expiration of the term required a renewal at this crisis, 
pressing as the crisis is, and recent as is our experience of the 
value of the Confederacy, sure I am that it would be impossible 
to revive it. What room have we, then, to hope that the expira 
tion of temporary grants of commercial powers would always 
find a unanimous disposition in the States to follow their own 
example ? 

206 WORKS OF MADISON. 1785. 

It ought to be remembered, too, that besides the caprice, jeal 
ousy, and diversity of opinions, which will be certain obstacles 
in our way, the policy of foreign nations may hereafter imitate 
that of the Macedonian Prince who effected his purposes against 
the Grecian Confederacy by gaining over a few of the leading 
men in the smaller members of it. Add to the whole, that the 
difficulty now found in obtaining a unanimous concurrence of 
the States in any measure whatever must continually increase 
with every increase of their numbers, and, perhaps, in a greater 
ratio, as the ultramontane States may either have, or suppose 
they have, a less similitude of interests to the Atlantic States 
than these have to one another. 

The propositions, however, have not yet received the final 
vote of the House, having lain on the table for some time as a 
report from the committee of the whole. The question was sus 
pended in order to consider a proposition which had for its 
object a meeting of Politico-commercial Commissioners from 
all the States, for the purpose of digesting and reporting the 
requisite augmentation of the power of Congress over trade. 

What the event will be cannot be foreseen. The friends of 
the original propositions are, I am told, rather increasing; but 
I despair of a majority, in any event, for a longer term than 
25 years for their duration. The other scheme will have fewer 
enemies, and may, perhaps, be carried. It seems naturally to 
grow out of the proposed appointment of Commissioners for 
Virginia and Maryland, concerted at Mount Vernon, for keep 
ing up harmony in the commercial regulations of the two States. 
Maryland has ratified the Report; but has invited into the plan 
Delaware and Pennsylvania, who will naturally pay the same 
compliment to their neighbours, &c. 

Besides the general propositions on the subject of trade, it 
has been proposed that some intermediate measures should be 
taken by ourselves; and a sort of navigation act will, I am ap 
prehensive, be attempted. It is backed by the mercantile inter 
est of most of our towns, except Alexandria, which alone seems 
to have liberality and light on the subject. It was refused even 
to suspend the measure on the concurrence of Maryland or N. 

1785. LETTERS. 207 

Carolina. This folly, however, cannot, one would think, brave 
the ruin which it threatens to our Merchants, as well as people 
at large, when a final vote comes to be given. 

We have got through a great part of the Revisal, and might 
by this time have been at the end of it, had the time wasted in 
disputing whether it could be finished at this session been spent 
in forwarding the work. As it is, we must content ourselves 
with passing a few more of the important Bills, leaving the 
residue for our successors of the next year. As none of the 
Bills passed are to be in force till January, 1787, and the res 
idue unpassed will probably be least disputable in their nature, 
this expedient, tho little eligible, is not inadmissible. 

Our public credit has had a severe attack and a narrow 
escape. As a compromise, it has been necessary to set forward 
the half tax till March, and the whole tax of September next 
till November ensuing. The latter postponement was meant to 
give the planters more time to deal with the Merchants in the 
sale of their Tobacco, and is made a permanent regulation. 
The Assize Bill is now depending. It has many enemies, and 
its fate is precarious. My hopes, however, prevail over my ap 
prehensions. The fate of the Port Bill is more precarious. 
The failure of an interview between our Commissioners and 
Commissioners on the part of North Carolina has embarrassed 
the projected Canal between the waters of the two States. If 
North Carolina were entirely well disposed, the passing an act 
suspended on and referred to her Legislature would be sufficient; 
and this course must, I suppose, be tried, tho previous negocia- 
tion would have promised more certain success. 

Kentucky has made a formal application for Independence. 
Her memorial has been considered and the terms of separation 
fixed by a committee of the whole. The substance of them is, 
that all private rights and interests derived from the laws of 
Virginia shall be secured; that the unlocated lands shall be ap 
plied to the objects to which the laws of Virginia have appro 
priated them; that non-residents shall be subjected to no higher 
taxes than residents; that the Ohio shall be a common high 
way for Citizens of the United States, and the jurisdiction of 

208 WORKS OF MADISON 1 78 5. 

Kentucky and Virginia, as far as the remaining territory of 
the latter will lie thereon, be concurrent only with the new 
States on the opposite shore; that the proposed State shall take 
its due share of our State debts; and that the separation shall 
not take place unless these terms shall be approved by a Con 
vention to be held to decide the question, nor until Congress 
shall assent thereto, and fix the terms of their admission into 
the Union. The limits of the proposed State are to be the same 
witli the present limits of the District. The apparent coolness 
of the Representatives of Kentucky as to a separation since 
these terms have been defined indicates that they had some 
views which will not be favored by them. They disliked much 
to be hung up on the will of Congress. 


RICHMOND, December 24, 1785. 

DEAR SIR, The proceedings of the Assembly since my last, 
dated this day week, have related: 1. To the Bill for establish 
ing Religious freedom in the Revisal. 2. A Bill concerning 
British debts. 3. A Bill concerning the Proprietary interest in 
the Northern neck. 4. For reforming the County Courts. The 
first employed the House of Delegates several days, the pre 
amble being the principal subject of contention. It at length 
passed without alteration. The Senate, I am told, have ex 
changed, after equal altercation, the preamble of the revisal for 
the last clause in the Declaration of Rights; an exchange which 
was proposed in the House of Delegates and negatived by a 
considerable majority. I do not learn that they have made, or 
will make, any other alteration. 

The Bill for the payment of British debts is nearly a tran 
script of that which went through the two Houses last year, ex 
cept that it leaves the periods of instalment blank, and gives the 
creditor an opportunity of taking immediate execution for the 
whole debt, if the debtor refuses to give security for complying 
with the instalments. The Bill was near being put off to the 

1781. LETTERS. ^ 209 

next session on the second reading. A majority were for it; 
but having got inadvertently into a hobble, from the manner in 
which the question was put, the result was, that Monday next 
should be appointed for its consideration. The arrival and 
sentiments of Col. Grayson will be favorable to some provision 
on the subject. A clause is annexed to the Bill authorising the 
Executive to suspend its operation, in case Congress shall sig 
nify the policy of so doing. The general cry is, that the Treaty 
ought not to be executed here until the posts are surrendered, 
and an attempt will be made to suspend the operation of the 
Bill on that event, or, at least, on the event of a positive dec 
laration from Congress that it ought to be put in force. The 
last mode will probably be fixed on, notwithstanding its depar 
ture from the regular course of proceeding, and the embarrass 
ment in which it may place Congress. 

The Bill for reforming the County Courts proposes to select 
five Justices, who are to sit quarterly, be paid scantily, and to 
possess the civil jurisdiction of the County courts, and the crim 
inal jurisdiction of the General Court, under certain restric 
tions. It is meant as a substitute for the Assize system, to all 
the objections against which it is liable, without possessing its 
advantages. It is uncertain whether it will pass at all, or what 
form it will finally take. I am inclined to think it will be 
thrown out. The Bill relating to the Northern Neck passed 
the House of Delegates yesterday. It removes the records into 
the Land office here, assimilates locations of surplus land to the 
general plan, and abolishes the Quit-rent. It was suggested 
that the latter point was of a judiciary nature, that it involved 
questions of fact, of law, and of the Treaty of peace, and that 
the representatives of the late proprietor ought at least to be 
previously heard, according to the request of their Agent. Very 
little attention was paid to these considerations, and the bill 
passed almost unanimously. 

VOL. I. 14 

210 WORKS OF MADISON. 1735. 


RICHMOND, Dec p 30th, 1785. 

DEAR SIR, The past week has been rendered important by 
nothing but some discussions on the subject of British debts. 
The bill brought in varied from that which miscarried last 
year: 1. By adding provision in favor of the creditors for secu 
ring payment at the dates of the instalments. 2. By annexing 
a clause empowering the Executive to suspend the operation of 
the act in case Congress should notify their wish to that effect. 
Great difficulty was found in drawing the House into Commit 
tee on the subject. It was at length effected on Wednesday. 
The changes made in the Bill by the Committee are: 1. Stri 
king out the clause saving the Creditors from the act of limita 
tion, which makes the whole a scene of mockery. 2. Striking 
out the provision for securities. 3. Converting the clause au 
thorizing Congress to direct a suspension of the act into a 
clause suspending it until Congress should notify to the Execu 
tive that Great Britain had complied with the Treaty on her 
part, or that they were satisfied with the steps taken by her for 
evacuating the posts, paying for Negroes, and for a full compli 
ance with the Treaty. The sentence underlined was proposed 
as an amendment to the amendment, and admitted by a very 
small majority only. 4. Exonerating the public from responsi 
bility for the payments into the Treasury by British debtors 
beyond the real value of the liquidated paper. Since these pro 
ceedings of the Committee of the whole the subject has slept 
on the table, no one having called for the report. Being con 
vinced myself that nothing can be now done that will not ex 
tremely dishonor us and embarrass Congress, my wish is that 
the report may not be called for at all. 

In the course of the debates no pains were spared to dispar 
age the Treaty by insinuations against Congress, the Eastern 
States, and the negociators of the Treaty, particularly J. Adams. 
These insinuations and artifices explain, perhaps, one of the 
motives from which the augmentation of the federal powers and 
respectability has been opposed. 

17 80. 


The reform of the County Courts has dwindled into direc 
tions for going through the docket quarterly, under the same 
penalties as now oblige them to do their business monthly. The 
experiment has demonstrated the impracticability of rendering 
these courts fit instruments of Justice; and if it had preceded 
the Assize Question, would, I think, have ensured its success. 
Some wish to renew this question in a varied form, or at least 
under a varied title, but the session is too near its period for 
such an attempt. When it will end I know not. The business 
depending would employ the House till March. A system of 
navigation and commercial regulations for this State alone is 
before us, and comprises matter for a month s debate. The 
compact with Maryland has been ratified. It was proposed to 
submit it to Congress for their sanction, as being within the 
word Treaty used in the Confederation. This was opposed. It 
was then attempted to transmit it to our Delegates, to be by 
them simply laid before Congress. Even this was negatived by 
a large majority. 


RICHMOND, January 22d, 1786. 

DEAR SIR, My last, dated November 15th, from this place, 
answered yours of May llth, on the subject of your printed 
notes. I have since had opportunities of consulting other 
friends on the plan you propose, who concur in the result of the 
consultations which I transmitted you. Mr. Wythe s idea seems 
to be generally approved; that the copies destined for the Uni 
versity should be dealt out by the discretion of the Professors, 
rather than indiscriminately and at once put into the hands of 
the students, which, other objections apart, would at once ex 
haust the stock. A vessel from Havre de Grace brought me a 
few days ago two Trunks of Books, but without letter or cat 
alogue attending them. I have forwarded them to Orange 
without examining much into the contents, lest I should miss a 
conveyance which is very precarious at this season, and be de- 


prived of the amusement they promise me for the residue of the 

Our Assembly last night closed a session of 97 days, during 
the whole of which, except the first seven, I have shared in the 
confinement. It opened with a very warm struggle for the 
chair between Mr. Harrison and Mr. Tyler, which ended in the 
victory of the former by a majority of six votes. This victory 
was shortly afterwards nearly frustrated by an impeachment 
of his election in the County of Surry. Having failed in his 
native County of Charles City, he abdicated his residence there, 
removed into the County of Surry, where he had an estate, took 
every step which the interval would admit to constitute him 
self an inhabitant, and was, in consequence, elected a represent 
ative. A charge of non-residence was, nevertheless, brought 
against him, decided against him in the committee of privileges 
by the casting vote of the Chairman, and reversed in the House 
by a very small majority. The election of Doctor Lee was at 
tacked on two grounds: 1 st , of non-residence; 2 dly , of holding a 
lucrative office under Congress. On the 1 st he was acquitted; 
on the 2 d , expelled by a large majority. 

The revised Code was brought forward prettly early in the 
session. It was first referred to Committee of Courts of Jus 
tice, to report such of the bills as were not of a temporary na 
ture, and, on their report, committed to committee of the whole. 
Some difficulties were raised as to the proper mode of proceed 
ing, and some opposition made to the work itself. These, how 
ever, being surmounted, and three days in each week appropri 
ated to the task, we went on slowly but successfully, till we 
arrived at the bill concerning crimes and punishments. Here 
the adversaries of the Code exerted their whole force, which, 
being abetted by the impatience of its friends in an advanced 
stage of the session, so far prevailed that the farther prosecu 
tion of the work was postponed till the next session. 

The operation of the bills passed is suspended until the be 
ginning of 1787, so that, if the code should be resumed by the 
next Assembly and finished early in the session, the whole sys 
tem may commence at once. I found it more popular in the 



Assembly than I had formed any idea of, and though it was 
considered by paragraphs, and carried through all the custom 
ary forms, it might have been finished at one session with great 
ease, if the time spent on motions to put it off and other dila 
tory artifices had been employed on its merits. The adversa 
ries were the Speaker, Thruston, and Mercer, who came late in 
the session into a vacancy left by the death of Col. Brent, of 
Stafford, and contributed principally to the mischief. 

The titles in the enclosed list will point out to you such of 
the bills as were adopted from the Revisal. The alterations 
which they underwent are too numerous to be specified, but 
have not materially vitiated the work. The bills passed over 
were either temporary ones, such as, being not essential as parts 
of the system, may be adopted at any time, and were likely to 
impede it at this, or such as have been rendered unnecessary by 
acts passed since the epoch at which the revisal was prepared. 
After the completion of the work at this session was despaired 
of, it was proposed and decided that a few of the bills following 
the bill concerning crimes and punishments should be taken up, 
as of peculiar importance. 

The only one of these which was pursued into an Act is the 
Bill concerning Religious freedom. The steps taken through 
out the Country to defeat the General Assessment had pro 
duced all the effect that could have been wished. The table 
was loaded with petitions and remonstrances from all parts 
against the interposition of the Legislature in matters of Re 
ligion. A general Convention of the Presbyterian church 
prayed expressly that the bill in the revisal might be passed 
into a law, as the best safeguard, short of a Constitutional one, 
for their religious rights. The bill was carried thro the House 
of Delegates without alteration. The Senate objected to the 
preamble, and sent down a proposed substitution of the 16 th ar 
ticle of the Declaration of Rights. The House of Delegates 
disagreed. The Senate insisted, and asked a Conference. Their 
objections were frivolous indeed. In order to remove them, as 
diey were understood by the Managers of the House of Dele- 

214 WORKS OF MADISON. 1786. 

gates, the preamble was sent up again from the House of Dele 
gates with one or two verbal alterations. As an amendment 
to these the Senate sent down a few others, which, as they did 
not affect the substance, though they somewhat defaced the 
composition, it was thought better to agree to than to run fur 
ther risks, especially as it was getting late in the Session and 
the House growing thin. The enacting clauses past without a 
single alteration, and I flatter myself have, in this country, ex 
tinguished forever the ambitious hope of making laws for the 
human mind. 

Acts not included in the Revised. 

For the naturaiiza- This was brought forward by Col. Henry 
tlon^of the Marquis de Lee, Jr., and passed without opposition. 
It recites his merits towards this Country, 
and constitutes him a Citizen of it. 

The donation presented to Gen 1 Wash- 
To amend the act . , , . 

vesting in Gen 1 Wash- ington embarrassed him much. On one 
ingtoifcertain shares in side he disliked the appearance of slight- 

the River Companies. . . - r 

ing the bounty of his Country, and of an 
ostentatious disinterestedness. On the other, an acceptance of 
reward in any shape was irreconcileable with the law lie had 
imposed on himself. His answer to the Assembly declined in 
the most affectionate terms the emolument allotted to himself, 
but intimated his willingness to accept it so far as to dedicate 
it to some public and patriotic use. This act recites the origi 
nal act and his answer, and appropriates the future revenue from 
the shares to such public objects as he shall appoint. He has 
been pleased to ask my ideas with regard to the most proper 
objects. I suggest, in general only, a partition of the fund be 
tween some institution which would please the philosophical 
world, and some other which may be of a popular cast. If your 
knowledge of the several institutions in France or elsewhere 
should suggest models or hints, I could wish for your ideas on 
the case, which no less concern the good of the Commonwealth 
than the character of its most illustrious citizen. 



Some of the malefactors consigned by 
the Executive to labour brought the legal- 
cil to grant Conditional j^y of such pardons before the late Court 

pardons in certain cases. * . , 

of Appeals, who adjudged them to be void. 
This act gives the Executive a power in such cases for one year. 
It passed before the bill in the revisal on this subject was taken 
up, and was urged against the necessity of passing it at this 
Session. The expiration of this act at the next Session will 
become an argument on the other side. 

This act empowers the Executive to con- 

An act giving powers 

to the Governor and fine Or Send away SUSplClOUS aliens, On no- 
Council in certain cases. tice from Congress that their sovereigns 

have declared or commenced hostilities against the United 
States, or that the latter have declared war against such sover 
eigns. It was occasioned by the arrival of two or three Alge- 
rines here, who, having no apparent object, were suspected of 
an unfriendly one. The Executive caused them to be brought 
before them, but found themselves unarmed with power to pro 
ceed. These adventurers have since gone off. 

Act for safe keeping Abolishes the quit-rent, and removes the 
era-Neck.^ papers to the Register s office. 

Act for reforming Requires them to clear their dockets 
County Courts. quarterly. It amounts to nothing, and is 

chiefly the result of efforts to render Courts of Assize unneces 

The latter act, passed at the last session, 

Act to suspend the T i ,. 

operation of the act es- required sundry supplemental regulations 
tablishing Courts of As- to fi t j t f or operation. An attempt to pro 
vide these, which involved the merits of the 
innovation, drew forth the united exertions of its adversaries. 
On the question on the supplemental bill, they prevailed by 63 
votes against 49. The best that could be done in this situation 
was to suspend instead of repealing the original act, which will 
give another chance to our successors for introducing the pro 
posed reform. The various interests opposed to it will never 
be conquered without considerable difficulty. 


Resolution proposing The necessity of harmony in the commer- 
a general meeting of cial regulations of the States has been ren- 

eommissioners from the , , , mi i i 

States to consider and dQYQd every day more apparent. Ihe local 

recommend a federal e ff or t s to counteract the policy of Great 

plan for regulating com- . r J 

merce; and appointing Britain, instead ol succeeding, have in every 

instance re coiled more or less on the State s 

J s Madison, Jr., Walter which ventured on the trial. Notwith- 

Jones, S* G-. Tucker. M. n . .-, .-. , r , P 

Smith, G. Mason, and standing these lessons, the Merchants 01 

David Ross, who are to fl^g State, except those of Alexandria, and 

communicate the propo- . . . 

sal and suggest time and a few of the more intelligent individuals 
place of meeting. elsewhere, were so far carried away by 

their jealousies of the Northern Marine as to wish for a naviga 
tion Act confined to this State alone. In opposition to those 
narrow ideas, the printed proposition herewith inclosed was 
made. As printed, it went into a Committee of the whole. The 
alterations of the pen shew the state in which it came out. Its 
object was to give Congress such direct power only as would 
not alarm, but to limit that of the States in such manner as 
would indirectly require a conformity to the plans of Congress. 
The renunciation of the right of laying duties on imports from 
other States would amount to a prohibition of duties on im 
ports from foreign Countries, unless similar duties existed in 
other States. This idea was favored by the discord produced 
between several States by rival and adverse regulations. The 
evil had proceeded so far between Connecticut and Massachu 
setts that the former laid heavier duties on imports from the 
latter than from Great Britain, of which the latter sent a letter 
of complaint to the Executive here, and I suppose to the other 
Executives. Without some such self-denying compact, it will, 
I conceive, be impossible to preserve harmony among the con 
tiguous States. 

In the Committee of the whole the proposition was combated 
at first on its general merits. This ground was, however, soon 
changed for that of its perpetual duration, which was reduced 
first to 25 years, then to 13 years. Its adversaries were the 
Speaker, Thruston, and Corbin; they were bitter and illiberal 

178G. LETTERS. 217 

against Congress and the Northern States beyond example. 
Thruston considered it as problematical whether it would not 
be better to encourage the British than the Eastern marine. 
Braxton and Smith were in the same sentiments, but absent at 
this crisis of the question. 

The limitation of the plan to 13 years so far destroyed its 
value in the judgment of its friends, that they chose rather to 
do nothing than to adopt it in that form. The report accord 
ingly remained on the table uncalled for to the end of the ses 
sion. And on the last day the resolution above quoted was 
substituted. It had been proposed by Mr. Tyler immediately 
after the miscarriage of the printed proposition, but was left 
on the table till it was found that several propositions for reg 
ulating our trade without regard to other States produced 
nothing. In this extremity, the resolution was generally ac 
ceded to, not without the opposition of Corbin and Smith. The 
Commissioners first named were the Attorney, Doctor Jones, 
and myself. In the House of Delegates, Tucker and Smith 
were added, and in the Senate, Mason, Ross, and Ronald. The 
last does not undertake. 

.The port bill was attacked and nearly defeated. An amend 
atory bill was passed with difficulty thro the House of Dele 
gates, and rejected in the Senate. The original one will take 
effect before the next session, but will probably be repealed 
then. It would have been repealed at this, if its adversaries 
had known their strength in time and exerted it with judgment. 

A Bill was brought in for paying British debts, but was ren 
dered so inadequate to its object by alterations inserted by a 
committee of the whole, that the patrons of it thought it best to 
let it sleep. 

Several petitions (from Methodists, chiefly) appeared in favor 
of a gradual abolition of slavery, and several from another 
quarter for a repeal of the law which licences private manu 
missions. The former were not thrown under the table, but 
were treated with all the indignity short of it. A proposition 
r or bringing in a bill conformably to the latter was decided in 

218 WORKS OF MADISON. 1736. 

the affirmative by the casting voice of the Speaker; but the bill 
was thrown out on the first reading by a considerable majority. 
A considerable itcli for paper money discovered itself, though 
no overt attempt was made. The partizans of the measure, 
among whom Mr. M. Smith may be considered as the most zeal 
ous, flatter themselves, and I fear upon too good ground, that 
it will be among the measures of the next session. The unfa 
vorable balance of trade and the substitution of facilities in 
the taxes will have dismissed the little specie remaining among 
us and strengthened the common argument for a paper medium. 
This tax was to have been collected in 
the A ?ax f of tEe S |rSt September last, and had been in part ac- 

year, and admitting fa- tually collected in specie. Notwithstand- 
ciMes in payment. . ,, . , ,, _* _ _ _. 

ing this and the distress of public credit, 

an effort was made to remit the tax altogether. The party was 
headed by Braxton, who was courting an appointment into the 
Council. On the question for a third reading, the affirmative 
was carried by 52 against 42. On the final question, a vigor 
ous effort on the negative side, with a reinforcement of a few 
new members, threw the bill out. The victory, however, was 
not obtained without subscribing to a postponement instead of 
remission, and the admission of facilities instead of specie. The 
postponement, too, extends not only to the tax which was under 
collection, and which will not now come in till May, but to the 
tax of September next, which will not now be in the Treasury 
till the beginning of next year. The wisdom of seven sessions 
will be unable to repair the mischiefs of this single act. 

This was prayed for by a memorial from 

Act concerning the -, , . . 

erection of Kentucky a Convention held in Kentucky, and 
State an independent passed without opposition. It contains 
stipulations in favor of territorial rights 
held under the laws of Virginia, and suspends the actual separ 
ation on the decision of a Convention authorized to meet for 
that purpose, and on the assent of Congress. The boundary 
of the proposed State is to remain the same as the present 
boundary of the district. 

1786. LETTERS. 219 

Act to amend the At the last session of 1784 an act passed 
Militia law. displacing all the militia officers, and pro 

viding for the appointment of experienced men. In most coun 
ties it was carried into execution, and generally much to the 
advantage of the militia. In consequence of a few petitions 
against the law as a breach of the Constitution, this act reverses 
all the proceedings under it, and reinstates the old officers. 

From the peculiar situation of that dis- 

Act to extend the on- , . , , T -17, i , n . . ,, 

eration of the Escheat trict > the Escheat law was not originally 
ncd- t0 tbe Northern extended to it. Its extension at this time 
was occasioned by a bill brought in by Mr. 
Mercer for seizing and selling the deeded land of the late Lord 
Fairfax, on the ground of its being devised to aliens, leaving 
them at liberty, indeed, to assert their pretensions before the 
Court of Appeals. As the bill, however, stated the law and 
the fact, and excluded the ordinary inquest, in the face of pre 
tensions set up even by a citizen, (Martin,) to whom it is said 
the reversion is given by the will, it was opposed as exerting 
at least a Legislative interference in, and improper influence 
on. the Judiciary question. It was proposed to substitute the 
present act as an amendment to the bill in a committee of the 
whole; which was disagreed to. The bill being of a popular 
cast went through the House of Delegates by a great majority. 
In the Senate it was rejected by a greater one, if not unani 
mously. The extension of the escheat law was, in consequence, 
taken up and passed. 

"An act for punishing To wit: attempts to dismember the State 
certain offences." without the consent of the Legislature. It 

is pointed against the faction headed by Arthur Campbell, in 
the County of Washington. 

Act for amending the Complies with the requisition of Con- 

appropriating Act. gress for the present year, to wit: 1786. 

It directs 512,000 dollars, the quota of this State, to be paid 
before May next, the time fixed by Congress, altho it is known 
that the postponement of the taxes renders the payment of a 
shilling impossible. Our payments last year gained us a little 
reputation. Our conduct this must stamp us with ignominy. 

220 WORKS OF MADISON. i 786> 

Act for regulating the Reduces that of the Governor from 
salaries of the civil list. .g lj000 to ^go^ and the others, some at a 

greater, and some at a less proportion. 

Act for disposing of Meant chlefl ^ tO affect VaCailt klld in 

waste lands on Eastern the Northern Neck, erroneously conceived 

to be in great quantity and of great value. 

The price is fixed at <25 per Hundred acres, at which not an 

acre will be sold. 

An act imposing ad- Amounting in the whole to five sliil- 

ditional tonnage on Brit 
ish vessels. lings per ton. 

Nothing has been yet done with North Carolina towards 
opening a Canal through the Dismal. The powers given to 
Commissioners on our part are renewed, and some negociation 
will be brought about if possible. A certain interest in that 
State is suspected of being disinclined to promote the object, 
notwithstanding its manifest importance to the community at 
large. On Potowmac they have been at work some time. On 
this river they have about eighty hands ready to break ground, 
and have engaged a man to plan for them. I fear there is a 
want of skill for the undertaking that threatens a waste of la 
bour and a discouragement to the enterprize. I do not learn 
that any measures have been taken to procure from Europe the 
aid which ought to be purchased at any price, and which might, 
I should suppose, be purchased at a moderate one. 

I had an opportunity a few days ago of knowing that Mrs. 
Carr and her family, as well as your little daughter, were well. 
I am apprehensive that some impediments still detain your 
younger nephew from his destination. Peter has been in Wil- 
liamsburg. and I am told by Mr. Maury that his progress is 
satisfactory. He has read, under him, Horace, some of Cicero s 
orations, Greek testament, JEsop s fables in Greek, ten books 
of Homer s Iliad, and is now beginning Xenophon, Juvenal, and 
Livy. He has also given some attention to French. 

I have paid Le Maire ten guineas. He will set out in about 
three weeks, I am told, for France. Mr. Jones has promised 
to collect and forward by him all such papers as are in print, 
and will explain the situation of our affairs to you. Among 

1786, LETTERS. 221 

them will be the most important acts of the session, and the 
Journal as far as it will be printed. 

Mr. William Hays, in sinking a well on the declivity of the 
hill above the proposed seat of the Capitol, and nearly in a line 
from the Capitol to Belvidere, found about seventy feet below 
the surface several large bones, apparently belonging to a fish 
not less than the shark, and, what is more singular, several frag 
ments of potter s ware in the style of the Indians. Before he 
reached these curiosities he passed through about fifty feet of 
soft blue clay. I have not seen the articles, having but just 
heard of them, and been too closely engaged; but have my in 
formation from the most unexceptionable witnesses, who have. 
I am told by General Russell, of Washington County, that, in 
sinking a salt well in that County, he fell in with the hip bone 
of the incognitum, the socket of which was about 8 inches diam 
eter. It was very soft in the subterraneous state, but seemed 
to undergo a petrefaction on being exposed to the air. 
Adieu. Affection 17 . 

Promotions. Edward Carrington & H. Lee, Jr., added to R. 
H. Lee, J s Monroe, and Wm. Grayson, in the delegation to 

Carter Braxton to the Council. 

John Tyler to court of admiralty, in room of B. Waller, re 

Prices current. Tobacco, 23s. on James River, and propor 
tionally elsewhere. 

Wheat, 5 to 6s. per bushel. 

Corn, 18 to 20s. per barrel. 

Pork 28 to 30s pr ct. 


RICHMOND, January 22d. 1786. 

DEAR SIR, Your favors of the 19th December and 7th Jan 
uary came both to hand by yesterday s mail. The Assembly ad- 


journcd last night after a session of 97 days. If its importance 
were to be measured by a list of the laws which it has produced, 
all preceding Legislative merit would be eclipsed, the number 
in this instance amounting to 114 or 115. If we recur to the 
proper criterion, no session has, perhaps, afforded less ground 
for applause. Not a single member seems to be pleased with a 
review of what has passed. I was too hasty in informing you 
that an amendment of the Port bill had passed. I was led into 
the error by the mistake of some who told me it had passed the 
Senate, when it had only been agreed to in a Committee of the 
Senate. Instead of passing it, they sent down a repeal of the 
old port bill by way of amendment. This was disagreed to by 
the House of Delegates as indirectly originating. The Senate 
adhered, and the bill was lost. An attempt was then made by 
the adversaries of the port measure to suspend its operation till 
the end of the next session. This also was negatived, so that 
the old bill is left as it stood, without alteration. Defective as 
it is, particularly in putting citizens of other States on the foot 
ing of foreigners, and destitute as it is of proper concomitant 
provisions, it was judged best to hold it fast, and trust to a suc 
ceeding Assembly for amendments. 

The navigation system for the State, after having been pre 
pared at great length by Mr. G. Baker, was procrastinated in 
a very singular manner, and finally died away of itself, without 
anything being done, except a short act passed yesterday in 
great hurry, imposing a tonnage of 5 shillings on the vessels of 
foreigners not having treated with the United States. 

This failure of local measures in the commercial line, instead 
of reviving the original propositions for a general plan, revived 
that of Mr. Tyler for the appointment of Commissioners to meet 
Commissioners from the other States on the subject of general 
regulations. It went through by a very great majority, being 
opposed only by Mr. M. Smith and Mr. Corbin. The expedi 
ent is no doubt liable to objections, and will probably mis 
carry. I think, however, it is better than nothing; and as a 
recommendation of additional powers to Congress is within the 
purview of the Commission, it may possibly lead to better con- 

17SG. LETTERS. 223 

sequences than at first occur. The Commissioners first named 
were the attorney, Doctor W. Jones of the Senate, and myself. 
The importunity of Mr. Page procured the addition of S George 
Tucker, who is sensible, federal, and skilled in commerce, to 
whom was added, on the motion of I know not whom, Mr. M. 
Smith, who is at least exceptionable in the second quality, hav 
ing made unceasing war during the session against the idea of 
bracing the federal system. In the senate, a further addition 
was made of Col. Mason, Mr. D. Ross, and Mr. Ronald. The 
name of the latter was struck out at his desire. The others 
stand. It is not unlikely that this multitude of associates will 
stifle the thing in its birth. By some it was probably meant to 
do so. 

I am glad to find that Virginia has merit where you are, and 
should be more so if I saw greater reason for it. The bill 
which is considered at New York as a compliance with the re 
quisitions of Congress, is more so in appearance than reality. 
It will bring no specie into the Treasury, and but little Conti 
nental paper. Another act has since passed which professes to 
comply more regularly with the demand of Congress, but this 
will fail as to specie and as to punctuality. It will probably 
procure the indents called for, and fulfils the views of Congress 
in making those of other States receivable into our Treasury. 
Among the acts passed since my last, I must not omit an eco 
nomical revision of the Civil list. The saving will amount to 
5 or 6.000 pounds. The Governor was reduced by the House 
of Delegates to 800, to which the Senate objected. Which 
receded I really forget. The Council to 2,000; the Attorney 
to 200; Register from 1,100 to 800; Auditor and Solicitor 
from 4 to 300; Speaker of House of Delegates to 40s. per day, 
including daily pay as a member; and of Senate to 20s, &c.; 
Delegates to Congress to six dollars per day. The act, how 
ever, is not to commence till November next. 



ORANGE, March 18th, 1786. 

DEAR SIR, Your two favours of the 1 and 20 September, 
under the same cover, by Mr. Fitzhugh, did not come to hand 
till the 24th ultimo, and of course till it was too late for any 
Legislative interposition with regard to the Capitol. I have 
written to the Attorney on the subject. A letter which I have 
from him, dated prior to his receipt of mine, takes notice of the 
plan you had promised, and makes no doubt that it will arrive 
in time for the purpose of the Commissioners. I do not gather 
from his expressions, however, that he was aware of the change 
which will become necessary in the foundation already laid, a 
change which will not be submitted to without reluctance, for 
two reasons: 1. The appearance of caprice to which it may 
expose the Commissioners. 2. Which is the material one, the 
danger of retarding the work till the next session of Assembly 
can interpose a vote for its suspension, and possibly for a re 
moval to Williamsburg. This danger is not altogether imagi 
nary. Not a session has passed since I became a member with 
out one or other or both of these attempts. 

At the late session a suspension was moved by the Williams- 
burg interest, which was within a few votes of being agreed to. 
It is a great object, therefore, with the Richmond interest, to 
get the buildings so far advanced before the fall as to put an 
end to such experiments. The circumstances which will weigh 
in the other scale, and which, it is to be hoped, will preponder 
ate, are the fear of being reproached with sacrificing public 
considerations to a local policy, and a hope that the substitu 
tion of a more economical plan may better reconcile the As 
sembly to a prosecution of the undertaking. 

Since I have been at home I have had leisure to review the 
literary cargo, for which I am so much indebted to your friend 
ship. The collection is perfectly to my mind. I must trouble 
you only to get two little mistakes rectified. The number of 
vols. in the Encyclopedia corresponds with your list, but a du 
plicate has been packed up of Tom. 1, premiere par tie of His- 

1786. LETTERS. 225 

toire Naturelle, Quadrupedes, premiere livraison, and there is 
left out the second part of the same Tome, which, as appears 
by the Avis to the 1st Livraison, makes the 1st Tome of His- 
toire des oiseaux as well as by the Histoire des oixeaux sent, 
which begins with Tom. II repartie, and with the letter F from 
the Avis to the sixth Livraison. I infer that the vol. omitted 
made part of the 5th livraison. The duplicate vol. seems to 
have been a good deal handled, and possibly belongs to your 
own sett. Shall I keep it in my hands, or send it back? The 
other mistake is an omission of the 4th vol. of D Albon sur 
1 interet de plusieurs nations, &c. The binding of the three 
vol s which are come is distinguished from that of most of the 
other books by the circumstance of the figure on the back num 
bering the vol 8 being on a black instead of a red ground. The 
author s name above is on a red ground. I mention these cir 
cumstances that the binder may supply the omitted volume in 
proper uniform. 

I annex a state of our account balanced. I had an opportu 
nity a few clays after your letters were received of remitting 
the balance to the hands of Mrs. Carr, with a request that it 
might be made use of as you directed, to prevent a loss of time 
to her sons from occasional disappointments in the stated funds. 
I have not yet heard from the Mr. Fitzhughs on the subject of 
your advance to them. The advance to Le Maire had been 
made a considerable time before I received your countermand 
ing instructions. I have no copying press, but must postpone 
that conveniency to other wants which will absorb my little 
resources. I am fully apprized of the value of this machine, 
and mean to get one when I can better afford it and may have 
more use for it. I am led to think it would be a very economi 
cal acquisition to all our public offices, which are obliged to 
furnish copies of papers belonging to them. 

A quorum of the deputies appointed by the Assembly for a 
commercial Convention had a meeting at Richmond shortly 
after I left it, and the Attorney tells me it has been agreed to 
propose Annapolis for the place, and the first monday in Sep 
tember for the time, of holding the Convention. It was thought 

VOL. i. 15 


prudent to avoid the neighborhood of Congress and the large 
Commercial towns, in order to disarm the adversaries to the 
object of insinuations of influence from either of these quarters. 
I have not heard what opinion is entertained of this project at 
New York, nor what reception it has found in any of the States. 
If it should come to nothing, it will, I fear, confirm Great Brit 
ain and all the world in the belief that we are not to be re 
spected nor apprehended as a nation in matters of commerce. 
The States are every day giving proofs that separate regulations 
are more likely to set them by the ears than to attain the com 
mon object. When Massachusetts set on foot a retaliation of 
the policy of Great Britain, Connecticut declared her ports free. 
New Jersey served New York in the same way. And Delaware, 
I am told, has lately followed the example, in opposition to the 
commercial plans of Pennsylvania. 

A miscarriage of this attempt to unite the States in some 
effectual plan will have another effect of a serious nature. It 
will dissipate every prospect of drawing a steady revenue from 
our imposts, either directly into the federal treasury, or indi 
rectly through the treasuries of the Commercial States, and, of 
consequence, the former must depend for supplies solely on an 
nual requisitions, and the latter on direct taxes drawn from the 
property of the Country. That these dependencies are in an 
alarming degree fallacious, is put by experience out of all ques 
tion. The payments from the States under the calls of Congress 
have in no year borne any proportion to the public wants. 
During the last year, that is, from November, 1784, to Novem 
ber, 1785, the aggregate payments, as stated to the late Assem 
bly, fell short of 400,000 dollars, a sum neither equal to the 
interest due on the foreign debts, nor even to the current ex- 
pences of the federal Government. The greatest part of this 
sum, too, went from Virginia, which will not supply a single 
shilling the present year. 

Another unhappy effect of a continuance of the present anar 
chy of our commerce will be a continuance of the unfavorable 
balance on it, which, by draining us of our metals, furnishes 
pretexts for the pernicious substitution of paper money, for in- 

1780. LETTERS. 227 

diligences to debtors, for postponements of taxes. In fact, most 
of our political evils may be traced up to our commercial ones, 
as most of our moral may to our political. The lessons which 
the mercantile interest of Europe have received from late expe 
rience will probably check their propensity to credit us beyond 
our resources, and so far the evil of an unfavorable balance 
will correct itself. But the Merchants of Great Britain, if no 
others, will continue to credit us, at least as far as our remit 
tances can be strained, and that is far enough to perpetuate our 
difficulties, unless the luxurious propensity of our own people 
can be otherwise checked. 

This view of our situation presents the proposed Convention 
as a remedial experiment which ought to command every as 
sent; but if it be a just view, it is one which assuredly will not 
be taken by all even of those whose intentions are good. I 
consider the event, therefore, as extremely uncertain, or rather, 
considering that the States must first agree to the proposition 
for sending deputies, that these must agree in a plan to be sent 
back to the States, and that these again must agree unanimously 
in a ratification of it, I almost despair of success. It is neces 
sary, however, that something should be tried, and if this be 
not the best possible expedient, it is the best that could possibly 
be carried through the Legislature here. And if the present 
crisis cannot effect unanimity, from what future concurrence of 
circumstances is it to be expected ? Two considerations partic 
ularly remonstrate against delay. One is the danger of having 
the same game played on our Confederacy by which Philip 
managed that of the Grecians. I saw enough during the late 
Assembly of the influence of the desperate circumstances of in 
dividuals on their public conduct, to admonish me of the possi 
bility of finding in the council of some one of the States fit in 
struments of foreign machinations. The other consideration is 
the probability of an early increase of the confederated States, 
which more than proportionally impede measures which require 
unanimity; as the new members may bring sentiments and in 
terests less congenial with those of the Atlantic States than 
those of the latter are one with another. 

228 WORKS OF MADISON. 1786. 

The price of our staple is down at 22s. at Richmond. One 
argument for putting off the taxes was, that it would relieve the 
planters from the necessity of selling, and would enable them 
to make a better bargain with the purchasers. The price has, 
notwithstanding, been falling ever since. How far the event 
may have proceeded from a change in the Market of Europe, I 
know not. That it has in part proceeded from the practice of 
remitting and postponing the taxes, may, I think, be fairly de 
duced. The scarcity of money must, of necessity, sink the price 
of every article, and the relaxation in collecting the taxes in 
creases this scarcity by diverting the money from the public 
Treasury to the shops of Merchandize. In the former case it 
would return into circulation. In the latter, it goes out of the 
Country to balance the increased consumption. A vigorous 
and steady collection of taxes would make the money necessary 
here, and would therefore be a mean of keeping it here. In our 
situation it would have the salutary operation of a sumptuary 
law. The price of Indian Corn in this part of the Country, 
which produced the best crops, is not higher than two dollars 
per barrel. It would have been much higher but for the pecu 
liar mildness of the winter. December and January scarcely 
reminded us that it was winter. February, though temperate, 
was less unseasonable. Our deepest snow (about seven inches) 
was in the present month. I observe the tops of the blue ridge 
still marked with its remains. My last was dated January 
22d, and contained a narrative of the proceedings of the As 


ORANGE, 19th March, 1786. 

DEAR SIR- *********** 
"The Question of policy," you say, "is whether it will be bet 
ter to correct the vices of the Confederation by recommendation 
gradually as it moves along, or by a Convention. If the latter 
should be determined on, the powers of the Yirginia Comrnis- 

1786. LETTERS. 229 

sioners are inadequate. 7 If all on whom the correction of these 
vices depends were well informed and well disposed, the mode 
would be of little moment. But as we have both ignorance and 
iniquity to combat, we must defeat the designs of the latter by 
humouring the prejudices of the former. The efforts for bring 
ing about a correction through the medium of Congress have 
miscarried. Let a Convention, then, be tried. If it succeeds in 
the first instance, it can be repeated as other defects force them 
selves on the public attention, and as the public inind becomes 
prepared for further remedies. 

The Assembly here would refer nothing to Congress. They 
would have revolted equally against a plenipotentiary commis 
sion to their deputies for the Convention. The option, there 
fore, lay between doing what was done and doing nothing. 
Whether a right choice was made time only can prove. I am 
not, in general, an advocate for temporizing or partial remedies. 
But a rigor in this respect, if pushed too far, may hazard every 
thing. If the present paroxysm of our affairs be totally neg 
lected our case may become desperate. If anything comes of 
the Convention, it will probably be of a permanent, not a tem 
porary nature, which I think will be a great point. The mind 
feels a peculiar complacency in seeing a good thing done when 
it is not subject to the trouble and uncertainty of doing it over 
again. The commission is, to be sure, not filled to every man s 
mind. The History of it may be a subject of some future tete 
a tete. 


ORANGE, April 9th, 1786. 

DEAR SIR, The step taken by New Jersey was certainly a 
rash one, and will furnish fresh pretexts to unwilling States for 
withholding their contributions. In one point of view, how 
ever, it furnishes a salutary lesson. Is it possible, with such an 
example before our eyes of impotency in the federal system, to 
remain sceptical with regard to the necessity of infusing more 

230 WORKS OF MADISON. 1786. 

energy into it? A Government cannot long stand which is 
obliged, in the ordinary course of its administration, to court a 
compliance with its constitutional acts, from a member not of 
the most powerful order, situated within the immediate verge 
of authority, and apprised of every circumstance which should 
remonstrate against disobedience. 

The question whether it be possible and worth while to pre 
serve the Union of the States must be speedily decided some 
way or other. Those who are indifferent to its preservation 
would do well to look forward to the consequences of its ex 
tinction. The prospect to my eye is a gloomy one indeed. 

I am glad to hear that the opposition to the impost is likely 
to be overcome. It is an encouragement to persevere in good 
measures. I am afraid, at the same time, that, like other auxil 
iary resources, it will be overrated by the States, and slacken 
the regular efforts of taxation. It is also materially short of 
the power which Congress ought to have with regard to trade. 
It leaves the door unshut against a commercial warfare among 
the States, our trade exposed to foreign machinations, and the 
distresses of an unfavorable balance very little checked. The 
experience of European Merchants who have speculated in our 
trade will probably check, in a great measure, our opportunities 
of consuming beyond our resources; but they will continue to 
credit us as far as our coin, in addition to our productions, will 
extend, and our experience here teaches us that our people will 
extend their consumption as far as credit can be obtained. 


ORAXGE, May 12th, 178G. 

DEAR SIR, My last was of March 18, since which I have 
been favored with yours of the 8 and 9th of February. Ban 
croft s application in favour of Paradise, inclosed in the latter, 
shall be attended to as far as the case will admit, though I see 
not how any relief can be obtained. If Mr. Paradise stands on 
the list of foreign creditors, his agent here may probably con- 

ITSfi. LETTERS. 231 

vort his securities into money without any very great loss, as 
they rest on good funds, and the principal is in a course of pay 
ment. If he stands on the domestic list, as I presume he does, 
the interest only is provided for, and, since the postponement of 
the taxes, even that cannot be negociated without a discount of 
10 per cent., at least. The principal cannot be turned into cash 
without sinking three-fourths of its amount. 

Your notes having got into print in France, will inevitably 
be translated back and published in that form, not only in Eng 
land but in America, unless you give out the original. I think, 
therefore, you owe it not only to yourself, but to the place you 
occupy and the subjects you have handled, to take this precau 
tion. To say nothing of the injury which will certainly result 
to the diction from a translation first into French and then 
back into English, the ideas themselves may possibly be so per 
verted as to lose their propriety. 

The books which you have been so good as to forward to me 
are so well assorted to my wishes that no suggestions are ne 
cessary as to your future purchases. A copy of the old edition 
of the Encyclopedia is desirable, for the reasons you mention; 
but as I should gratify my desire in this particular at the ex- 
pence of something else which I can less dispense with, I must 
content myself with the new Edition for the present. The 
watch I bought in Philadelphia, though a pretty good one. is 
probably so far inferior to those of which you have a sample 
that I cannot refuse your kind offer to procure me one of the 
same sort; and I am fancying to myself so many little gratifica 
tions from the pedometer that I cannot forego that addition. 

The inscription for the Statue is liable to Houdon s criticism, 
and is in every respect inferior to the substitute which you 
have copied into your letter. I am apprehensive, notwithstand 
ing, that no change can be effected. The Assembly will want 
some proper ground for resuming the matter. The devices for 
the other side of the pedestal are well chosen, and might, I 
should suppose, be applied without scruple as decorations of the 
artist. I counted, myself, on the addition of proper ornaments, 

232 WORKS OF MADISON. 1730. 

and am persuaded that such a liberty could give offence no 

The execution of your hints with regard to the Marquis and 
Rochambcau would be no less pleasing to me than to you. I 
think with you, also, that the setting up the busts of our own 
worthies would not be doing more honour to them than to our 
selves. I foresee, however, the difficulty of overcoming the 
popular objection against every measure which involves expencc, 
particularly where the importance of the measure will be felt by 
a few only; and an unsuccessful attempt would be worse than 
no attempt. I have heard nothing as to the Capitol. I men 
tioned to you in my last that I had written to the Attorney on 
the subject. 1 shall have an opportunity shortly of touching on 
it again to him. 

A great many changes have taken place in the late elections. 
The principal acquisitions are Col. G. Mason, who, I am told, 
was pressed into the service at the instigation of General Wash 
ington, General Nelson, Mann Page. In AlbGmarle, both the 
old ones declined the task. Their successors are George and 
John Nicholas. Col. Carter was again an unsuccessful candi 
date. I have not heard how Mr. Harrison has shaped his course. 
It was expected that he would stand in a very awkward rela 
tion both to Charles City and to Surrey, and would probably 
succeed in neither. Monroe lost his election in King George 
by 6 votes. Mercer did his by the same number in Stafford. 
Neither of them was present, or they would, no doubt, have 
both been elected. Col. Bland is also to be among us. Among 
the many good things which may be expected from Col. Mason, 
we may reckon, perhaps, an effort to review our Constitution. 
The loss of the port bill will certainly be one condition on 
which we are to receive his valuable assistance. I am not with 
out fears, also, concerning his federal ideas. The last time I 
saw him he seemed to have come about a good deal towards 
the policy of giving Congress the management of trade. But 
he lias been led so far out of the right way that a thorough re 
turn can scarcely be hoped for. On all the other great points. 

1786. LETTERS. 233 

the Revised Code, the Assize bill, taxation, paper money, &c., 
his abilities will be inestimable. 

Most if not all the States, except Maryland, have appointed 
deputies for the proposed Convention at Annapolis. The refu 
sal of Maryland to appoint proceeded, as I am informed by Mr. 
Daniel Carroll, from a mistaken notion that the measure would 
derogate from the authority of Congress, and interfere with the 
Revenue system of April, 1783, which they have lately recom 
mended anew to the States. There is certainly no such inter 
ference, and instead of lessening the authority of Congress, the 
object of the Convention is to extend it over commerce. I have 
no doubt that on a reconsideration of the matter it will be 
viewed in a different light. 

The internal situation of this State is growing worse and 
worse. Our specie has vanished. The people are again plunged 
in debt to the Merchants, and these circumstances, added to the 
fall of Tobacco in Europe and a probable combination among 
its chief purchasers here, have reduced that article to 20s. The 
price of Corn is, in many parts of the Country, at 20s. and up 
wards per barrel. In this part it is not more than 15s. Our 
spring has been a cool and, latterly, a dry one; of course it is a 
backward one. The first day of April was the most remark 
able ever experienced in this climate. It snowed and hailed 
the whole day in a storm from N. E., and the Thermometer 
stood at 4 o clock P. M. at 26. If the snow had fallen in the 
usual way it would have been 8 or 10 inches deep, at least; but 
consisting of small hard globules, mixed with small hail, and 
lying on the ground so compact and firm as to bear a man, it 
was less than half of that depth. 

We hear from Kentucky that the inhabitants are still at 
variance with their savage neighbours. In a late skirmish sev 
eral were lost on both sides. On that of the whites Col. W. 
Christian is mentioned. It is said the scheme of independence 
is growing unpopular since the act of our Assembly has brought 
the question fully before them. Your nephew, Dabney Carr, 
lias been some time at the Academy in Prince Edward. The 
President, Mr. Smith, speaks favorably of him. 


With the sincerest affection, I remain, dear sir, your friend 
and servant. 

P. S. I have taken measures for procuring the Peccan nuts, 
and the seed of the sugar Tree. Are there no other things here 
which would be acceptable on a like account? You will with 
hold from me a real pleasure if you do not favor me with your 
commands freely. Perhaps some of our animal curiosities would 
enable you to gratify particular characters of merit. I can, 
without difficulty, get the skins of all our common and of some 
of our rarer quadrupeds, and can have them stuifed, if desired. 
It is possible, also, that I may be able to send some of them 
alive. I lately had on hand a female opossum, with seven young 
ones, which I intended to have reared, for the purpose partly of 
experiments myself, and partly of being able to forward them 
to you in case of an opportunity, and your desiring it. Unfor 
tunately, they Imve all died. But I find they can be got at any 
time, almost, in the spring of the year, and if the season be too 
far advanced now, they may certainly be had earlier in the next 

I observe that in your notes you number the fallow and Roe- 
deer among the native quadrupeds of America. As Buffon had 
admitted the fact, it was, whether true or erroneous, a good ar 
gument, no doubt, against him. But I am persuaded they arc 
not natives of the new continent. Buffon mentions the chcv- 
ruel, in particular, as abounding in Louisiana. I have enquired 
of several credible persons who have traversed the western 
woods extensively, and quite down to New Orleans, all of whom 
affirm that no other than our common deer are any where seen. 
Nor can I find any written evidence to the contrary that de 
serves notice. You have, I believe, justly considered our Mo- 
nax as the Marmotte of Europe. I have lately had an oppor 
tunity of examining a female one with some attention. Its 
weight, after it had lost a good deal of blood, was 5J Ibs. Its 
dimensions, shape, teeth, and structure within, as far as I could 
judge, corresponded in substance with the description given by 

1786. LETTERS. 235 

D Aubenton. In sundry minute circumstances a precise cor 
respondence was also observable. The principal variations 
were: 1 st , in the face, which was shorter in the Monax than in 
the proportions of the Marmotte, and was less arched about the 
root of the nose. 2 nd , in the feet, each of the forefeet having a 
fifth nail, about J of an inch long, growing out of the inward 
side of the heel, without any visible toe. From this particular 
it would seem to be the Marmotte of Poland, called the Bobac, 
rather than the Alpine Marmotte. 3 rd , in the teats, which were 
8 only. The marmotte in Buffon had 10. 4 th , in several circum 
stances of its robe, particularly of that of the belly, which con 
sisted of a short, coarse, thin hair, whereas this part of Buffon s 
marmotte was covered with a thicker fur than the back, &c. 

A very material circumstance in the comparison remains to 
be ascertained. The European Marmotte is in the class of those 
which arc dormant during the winter. No person here of whom 
I have enquired can decide whether this be a quality of the 
Monax. I infer that it is of the dormant class, not only from 
its similitude to the Marmotte in other respects, but from the 
sensible coldness of the Monax I examined, compared with the 
human body, although the vital heat of quadrupeds is said, in 
general, to be greater than that of man. This inferiority of 
heat being a characteristic of animals which become torpid 
from cold, I should consider it as deciding the quality of the 
Monax in this respect, were it not that the subject of my exam 
ination, though it remained alive several days, was so crippled 
and apparently dying the whole time, that its actual heat could 
not fairly be taken for the degree of its natural heat. If it had 
recovered, I intended to have made a trial with the Thermom 
eter. I now propose to have, if I can, one of their habitations 
discovered during the summer, and to open it on some cold day 
next winter. This will fix the matter. There is another cir 
cumstance which belongs to a full comparison of the two ani 
mals. The Marmotte of Europe is said to be an inhabitant of 
the upper region of mountains only. Whether our Monax be 
confined to mountainous situations or not, I have not yet learnt. 
If it be not found as a permanent inhabitant of the level coun- 

236 WORKS OF MADISON. 1786. 

try, it certainly descends occasionally into the plains which are 
in the neighborhood of mountains. 

I also compared, a few days ago, one of our moles with the 
male one described in Buffon. It weighed 2 ounces 11 pen ts . 
Its length, the end of its snout to the root of the tail, was 5 
inches 3 lines, English measure. That described in Buffon was 
not weighed, I believe. Its length was 5 inches, French meas 
ure. The external and internal correspondence seemed to be 
too exact for distinct species. There was a difference, never 
theless, in two circumstances, one of which is not unworthy of 
notice, and the other of material consequence in the compari 
son. The first difference was in the tail, that of the mole here 
being 10 J English lines only in the length, and naked, whereas 
that of Buffon s mole was 14 French lines in length, and covered 
with hair. If the hair was included in the latter measure, the 
difference in the length ought scarcely to be noticed. The sec 
ond difference lay in the teeth. The mole in Buffon had 44. 
That which I examined had but 33; one of those on the left side 
of the upper jaw, and next to the principal cutters, was so small 
as to be scarcely visible to the natural eye, and had no corre 
sponding tooth on the opposite side. Supposing this defect of a 
corresponding tooth to be accidental, a difference of ten teeth 
still remains. 

If these circumstances should not be thought to invalidate 
the identity of species, the mole will stand as an exception to 
the Theory which supposes no animal to be common to the two 
continents which cannot bear the cold of the region where they 
join, since, according to Buffon, this species of mole is not found 
"dans les climats froids ou la terre est glace pendant la plus 
grande partie de 1 annee," and it cannot be suspected of such a 
journey during a short summer as would head the sea which 
separates the two continents. I suspect that several of our 
quadrupeds which are not peculiar to the new continent will 
be found to be exceptions to this Theory, if the mole should 
not. The Marmotte itself is not an animal taken notice of very 
far to the north, and as it moves slowly, and is deprived of its 
locomotive powers altogether by cold, cannot be supposed to 

1786. LETTERS. 237 

have travelled the road which leads from the old to the New 
World. It is, perhaps, questionable whether any of the dor 
mant animals, if any such be really common to Europe and 
America, can have emigrated from one to the other. 

I have thought that the cuts of the Quadrupeds in Buffon, if 
arranged in frames, would make both an agreeable and instruc 
tive piece of wall furniture. What would be the cost of them 
in such a form? I suppose they are not to be had coloured to 
the life, and would, besides, be too costly. What is the price 
of Buffon s birds, colored? 

Your letter of 28 October has never come to hand. 


ORANGE, May 13th. 1786. 

DEAR SIR, ********** 
I think, with you, that it would have an odd appearance for 
two Conventions to be sitting at the same time with powers in 
part concurrent. The reasons you give seem also to be valid 
against augmenting the powers of that which is to meet at An 
napolis. I am not surprized, therefore, at the embarrassment 
of Congress in the present conjuncture. Will it not be best, on 
the whole, to suspend measures for a more thorough cure of our 
federal system till the partial experiment shall have been made ? 
If the spirit of the Conventioners should be friendly to the 
Union, and their proceedings well conducted, their return into 
the councils of their respective States will greatly facilitate any 
subsequent measures which may be set on foot by Congress, or 
by any of the States. 

Great changes have taken place in the late elections. I re 
gret much that we are not to have your aid. It will be greatly 
needed, I am sure. Mercer, it seems, lost his election by the 
same number of votes as left you out. He was absent at the 
time, or he would no doubt have been elected. Have you seen 
his pamphlet? You will have heard of the election of Col. 
>>lason, General Nelson, Mann Page, G. Nicholas, Jn Nicholas, 

238 WORKS OF MADISON. 1780. 

and Col. Bland. Col. Mason will be an inestimable acquisi 
tion on most of the great points. On the port bill he is to be 
equally dreaded. In fact, I consider that measure as lost almost 
at any rate. There was a majority against it last session if it 
had been skilfully made use of. To force the trade to Norfolk 
and Alexandria, without preparations for it at those places, 
will be considered as injurious. And so little ground is there 
for confidence in the stability of the Legislature, that no prep 
arations will ever be made in consequence of a preceding law. 
The transition must of necessity, therefore, be at any time ab 
rupt and inconvenient. I am somewhat apprehensive, likewise, 
that Col. Mason may not be fully cured of his anti-federal pre 

We hear from Kentucky that the savages continue to disquiet 
them. Col. W. Christian, it is said, lately lost his life in pur 
suing a few who had made an inroad on the settlement. We 
are told, too, that the proposed separation is growing very un 
popular among them. 


ORANGE, June 4th, 1786. 

DEAR SIR, At the date of my last, I expected I should by 
this time have been on the journey which promises the pleasure 
of taking you by the hand in New York. Several circumstances 
have produced a delay in my setting out which I did not cal 
culate upon, and which are like to continue it for eight or ten 
days to come. My journey will also be rendered tedious by the 
route which I shall pursue. I have some business which makes 
it expedient for me to take Winchester and Lancaster in my 
way, and some duties of consanguinity which will detain me 
some days in the neighborhood of the former. If I have an op 
portunity I will write you again before I set out; and if I should 
not, I will do it immediately on my reaching Philadelphia. You 
will not write after the receipt of this. 

I imagine you get from Mr. Jones better information as to 

17SG. LETTERS. 239 

the back country, as well as concerning our more immediate af 
fairs, tli an I can give you. The death of Christian seems to be 
confirmed. The disinclination of Kentucky to a separation is 
also repeated with strong circumstances of probability. Our 
staple continues low. The people have got in debt to the mer 
chants, who set their own price, of course. There are, perhaps, 
other causes also, besides the fall of the market in Europe, 
which, of itself, does not explain the matter. One of them may 
be the scarcity of money, which is really great. 

The advocates for paper money are making the most of this 
handle. I begin to fear exceedingly that no efforts will be suf 
ficient to parry this evil. The election of Col. Mason is the 
main counterpoise for my hopes against the popular cry. Mann 
Page and General Nelson will also, I flatter myself, be valuable 
fellow-labourers. Our situation is truly embarrassing. It can 
not, perhaps, be affirmed that there is gold and silver enough 
in the Country to pay the next tax. "What, then, is to be done? 
Is there any other alternative but to emit paper, or to postpone 
the collection? These are the questions which will be rung in 
our ears by the very men whose past measures have plunged us 
into our difficulties. But I will not plague you with our diffi 
culties here. You have enough of them, I am sure, where you 
are. Present my best respects to Col. Gray son and your other 
colleagues, and believe me to be, your s affectionately. 


ORANGE, June 21st, 1786. 

DEAR SIR, Your favor of the 31st ult. did not come to hand 
till two days ago. As I expect to see you in a short time, I 
will suspend the full communication of my ideas on the subject 
of it till I have that pleasure. 

I cannot, however, forbear in the mean time expressing my 
amazement that a thought should be entertained of surrender 
ing the Mississippi, and of guarantying the possessions of Spain 


in America. In the first place, has not Virginia, have not Con 
gress themselves, and the Ministers of Congress by their orders, 
asserted the right of those who live on the waters of the Mis 
sissippi to use it as the high road given by nature to the sea ? 
This being the case, have Congress any more authority to say 
that the Western citizens of Virginia shall not pass through 
the capes of the Mississippi than to say that her Eastern citi 
zens shall not pass through the capes Henry and Charles ? It 
should be remembered that the United States are not now ex 
tricating themselves from war a crisis which often knows no 
law but that of necessity. The measure in question would be a 
voluntary barter, in time of profound peace, of the rights of 
one part of the empire to the interests of another part. What 
would Massachusetts say to a proposition for ceding to Britain 
her right of fishery as the price of some stipulations in favor 
of Tobacco? 

Again : can there be a more short-sighted or dishonorable 
policy than to concur with Spain in frustrating the benevolent 
views of nature, to sell the affections of our ultra-montane 
brethren, to depreciate the richest fund we possess, to distrust 
an ally we know to be able to befriend us, and to have an in 
terest in doing it against the only nation whose enmity we can 
dread, and at the same time to court by the most precious 
sacrifices the alliance of a nation whose impotency is notorious, 
who has given no proof of regard for us, and the genius of 
whose Government, religion, and manners, unfits them of all the 
nations in Christendom for a coalition with this country? Can 
anything, too, as you well observe, be more unequal than a 
stipulation which is to open all our ports to her, and some only, 
and those the least valuable, of hers, to us ; and which places 
the commercial freedom of our ports against the fettered regu 
lations of those in Spain? I always thought the stipulation 
with France and Holland of the privileges of the most favoured 
nation unequal, and only to be justified by the influence which 
the treaties could not fail to have on the event of the war. A 
stipulation putting Spanish subjects on the same footing with 
our own citizens is carrying the evil still farther, without the 

1786. LETTERS. 241 

same pretext for it, and is the more to be dreaded, as by 
making her the most favored nation it would let in the other 
nation with whom we are now connected to the same privileges, 
whenever they may find it their interest to make the same 
compensation for them, whilst we have not a reciprocal rhrl:t 
to force them into such an arrangement in case our interest 
should dictate it. 

A guaranty is, if possible, still more objectionable. If it be 
insidious, we plunge ourselves into infamy; if sincere, into ob 
ligations the extent of which cannot easily be determined. In 
either case we get farther into the labyrinth of European poli 
tics, from which we ought religiously to keep ourselves as free 
as possible. And what is to be gained by such a rash step? 
Will any man in his senses pretend that our territory needs 
such a safeguard, or that, if it were in danger, it is the arm of 
Spain that is to save it? Viewing the matter in this light. I 
cannot but flatter myself that if the attempt you apprehend 
should be made, it will be rejected with becoming indignation. 

I am less sanguine as to the issue of the other matter con- 
ta-ined in your letter. I know the mutual prejudices which 
impede every overture towards a just and final settlement of 
claims and accounts. I persist in the opinion that a proper 
nnd speedy ndjustment is unattainable from any assembly con 
stituted as Congress is, and acting under the impulse which 
they must. I need not repeat to you the plan which has always 
appeared to me most likely to answer the purpose. In the 
mean time it is mortifying to see the other States, or rather 
their Representatives, pursuing a course which will make the 
case more and more difficult, and putting arms into the hands 
of the enemies to every amendment of our federal system. God 
knows that they are formidable enough in this State without 
such an advantage. With it, their triumph will be certain and 
easy. But I have been led much farther already than I pro 
posed, and will only that 

I am with the sincerest affection, your friend and serv. 

VOL. i. 16 



PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 12th, 1786. 

DEAR SIR, My last, of the 19th of June, intimated that my 
next would be from New York or this place. I expected it 
would rather have been from the former, which I left a few days 
ago; but my time was so taken up there with my friends and 
some business, that I thought it best to postpone it till my re 
turn here. My ride through Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsyl 
vania, was in the midst of harvest. I found the crops of wheat 
in the upper parts of the two former considerably injured by 
the wet weather, which my last described as so destructive in 
the lower parts of those States. The computed loss where I 
passed was about one- third. The loss in the Rye was much 
greater. It was admitted, however, that the crops of both 
would have been unusually large but for this casualty. Through 
out Pennsylvania the wheat was unhurt, and the Rye very little 

As I came by the way of Winchester and crossed the Po tow- 
mac at Harper s Ferry, I had an opportunity of viewing the 
magnificent scene which nature here presents. I viewed it, how 
ever, under great disadvantages. The air was so thick that 
distant objects were not visible at all, and near ones not dis 
tinctly so. We ascended the mountain, also, at a wrong place, 
fatigued ourselves much in traversing it before we gained the 
right position, were threatened during the whole time with a 
thunder storm, and finally overtaken by it. Had the weather 
been favorable the prospect would have appeared to peculiar 
advantage, being enriched with the harvest in its full maturity, 
which filled every vale as far as the eye could reach. 

I had the additional pleasure here of seeing the progress of 
the works on the Potowmac. About 50 hands were employed 
at these falls, or rather rapids, who seemed to have overcome 
the greatest difficulties. Their plan is to slope the fall by open 
ing the bed of the river, in such a manner as to render a lock 
unnecessary, and, by means of ropes fastened to the rocks, to 
pull up and ease down the boats where the current is most 

1786. LETTERS. 243 

rapid. At the principal falls 150 hands, I was told, were at 
work, and that the length of the canal will be reduced to less 
than a mile, and carried through a vale which does not require 
it to be deep. Locks will here be unavoidable. The under 
takers are very sanguine. Some of them who are most so talk 
of having the entire work finished in three years. I can give 
no particular account of the progress on James River, but am 
told it is very flattering. I am still less informed of what is 
doing with North Carolina towards a canal between her and 
our waters. The undertaking on the Susquehannah is said to 
be in such forwardness as to leave no doubt of its success. 

A negociation is set on foot between Pennsylvania, Mary 
land, and Delaware, for a canal from the head of Chesapeak to 
the Delaware. Maryland, as 1 understand, heretofore opposed 
the undertaking, and Pennsylvania means now to make her 
consent to it a condition on which the opening of the Susque 
hannah within the limits of Pennsylvania will depend. Unless 
this is permitted, the opening undertaken within the limits of 
Maryland will be of little account. It is lucky that both par- 
tle-s axc_so dependent on each other as to be thus mutually forced 
into measures of general utility. I am told that Pennsylvania 
has complied with the joint request of Virginia and Maryland 
for a road between the head of Potowmac and the waters of 
the Ohio, and the secure and free use of the latter through her 

These fruits of the Revolution do great honour to it. I wish 
all our proceedings merited the same character. Unhappily, 
there are but too many belonging to the opposite side of the 
account. At the head of these is to be put the general rage for 
paper money. Pennsylvania and North Carolina took the lead 
in this folly. In the former the sum emitted was not consider 
able, the funds for sinking it were good, and it was not made a 
legal tender. It issued into circulation partly by way of loan 
to individuals on landed security, partly by way of payment to 
the public creditors. Its present depreciation is about 10 or 12 
per cent. In North Carolina the sums issued at different times 
have been of greater amount, and it has constantly been a ten- 

244 WORKS OF MADISON. 1786. 

der. It issued partly in payments to military creditors, and, 
latterly, in purchases of Tobacco on public account. The 
Agent, T am informed, was authorised to give nearly the double 
of the current price; and as the paper was a tender, debtors ran 
to him with their Tobacco, and the creditors paid the expence 
of the farce. The depreciation is said to be 25 or 30 per cent, 
in that State. South Carolina was the next in order. Her 
emission was in the way of loans to individuals, and is not a 
legal tender. But land is there made a tender in case of suits, 
which shuts the Courts of Justice, and is, perhaps, as great an 
evil. The friends of the emission say that it has not yet depre 
ciated, but they admit that the price of commodities has risen, 
which is evidently the form in which depreciation will first shew 

New Jersey has just issued <30,000 (dollar at 7s. 6c7.) in 
loans to her citizens. It is a legal tender. An addition of 
XI 00, 000 is shortly to follow on the same principles. The ter 
ror of popular associations stifles, as yet, an overt discrimina 
tion between it and specie; but as this does not operate in Phil 
adelphia and New York, where all the trade of New Jersey is 
carried on, its depreciation has already commenced in those 
places, and must soon communicate itself to New Jersey. New 
York is striking 200,000 (dollar at 8s.) on the plan of loans 
to her citizens. It is made a legal tender in case of suits only. 
As it is but just issuing from the press, its depreciation exists 
only in the foresight of those who reason without prejudice on 
the subject. In Rhode Island, 100,000 (dollar at 6s.) has 
lately been issued in loans to individuals. It is not only made 
a tender, but severe penalties annexed to the least attempt, di 
rect or indirect, to give a preference to specie. Precautions 
dictated by distrust in the rulers soon produced it in the peo 
ple. Supplies were withheld from the Market, the Shops were 
shut, popular meetings ensued, and the State remains in a sort 
of convulsion. 

The Legislature of Massachusetts at their last session rejected 
a paper emission by a large majority. Connecticut and New 
Hampshire, also, have as yet forborne, but symptoms of danger, 

1786. LETTERS. 245 

it is said, begin to appear in the latter. The Senate of Mary 
land has hitherto been a bar to paper in that State. The 
clamor for it is now universal, and as the periodical election of 
the Senate happens at this crisis, and the whole body is, un 
luckily, by their Constitution, to be chosen at once, it is proba 
ble that a paper emission will be the result. If, in spite of the 
zeal exerted against the old Senate, a majority of them should 
be re-elected, it will require all their firmness to withstand the 
popular torrent. Of the affairs of Georgia I know as little as 
of those of Kamskatska. 

Whether Virginia is to remain exempt from the epidemic 
malady will depend on the ensuing Assembly. My hopes rest 
chiefly on the exertions of Col. Mason, and the failure of the 
experiments elsewhere. That these must fail is morally certain; 
for besides the proofs of it already visible in some States, and 
the intrinsic defect of the paper in all, this fictitious money will 
rather feed than cure the spirit of extravagance which sends 
away the coin to pay the unfavorable balance, and will there 
fore soon be carried to market to buy up coin for that purpose. 
Frjom that moment depreciation is inevitable. The value of 
money consists in the uses it will serve. Specie will serve all 
the uses of paper; paper will not serve one of the essential uses 
of specie. The paper, therefore, will be less valuable than spe 
cie. Among the numerous ills with which this practice is preg 
nant, one, I find, is, that it is producing the same warfare and 
retaliation among the. States as were produced by the State 
regulations of commerce. Massachusetts and Connecticut have 
passed laws enabling their citizens who are debtors to citizens 
of States having paper money, to pay their debts in the same 
manner as their citizens who are creditors to citizens of the lat 
ter States are liable to be paid their debts. 

The States which have appointed deputies to Annapolis are 
New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New 
Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia. Connecticut 
declined, not from a dislike to the object, but to the idea of a 
Convention, which it seems has been rendered obnoxious by 
some internal Conventions, which embarrassed the Legislative 

246 WORKS OF MADISON. 1786. 

authority. Maryland, or rather her Senate, negatived an ap 
pointment, because they supposed the measure might interfere 
with the plans or prerogatives of Congress. North Carolina 
has had no Legislative meeting since the proposition was com 
municated. South Carolina supposed she had sufficiently sig 
nified her concurrence in a general regulation of trade by vest 
ing the power in Congress for 15 years. Georgia - . 
Many Gentlemen, both within and without Congress, wish to 
make this meeting subservient to a plenipotentiary Convention 
for amending the Confederation. Tho 7 my wishes are in favor 
of such an event, yet I despair so much of its accomplishment 
at the present crisis that I do not extend my views beyond a 
commercial Reform. To speak the truth, I almost despair even 
of this. You will find the cause in a measure now before Con 
gress, of which you will receive the detail from Col. Monroe. 
I content myself with hinting that it is a proposed treaty with 
Spain, one article of which shuts up the Mississippi for twenty- 
five or thirty years. Passing by the other Southern States, 
figure to yourself the effect of such a stipulation on the Assem 
bly of Virginia, already jealous of Northern politics, and which 
will be composed of about thirty members from the Western 
waters; of a majority of others attached to the Western Coun 
try from interests of their own, of their friend, or their constit 
uent; and of many others who, though indifferent to Mississippi, 
will zealously play off the disgust of their friends against fed 
eral measures. Figure to yourself its effect on the people at 
large on the western waters, who are impatiently waiting for a 
favorable result to the negociation of Gardoqui, and who will 
consider themselves as sold by their Atlantic brethren. Will 
it be an unnatural consequence if they consider themselves ab 
solved from every federal tie, and court some protection for 
their betrayed rights? This protection will appear more at 
tainable from the maritime power of Britain than from any other 
quarter; and Britain will be more ready than any other nation 
to seize an opportunity of embroiling our affairs. 

What may be the motive with Spain to satisfy herself with a 
temporary occlusion of the Mississippi, at the same time that 

1786. LETTERS. 247 

she holds forth our claim to it as absolutely inadmissible, i? 
matter of conjecture only. The patrons of the measure in Con 
gress contend that the Minister, who at present governs the 
Spanish councils, means only to disembarrass himself at the 
expence of his successors. I should rather suppose he means to 
work a total separation of interest and affection between west 
ern and eastern settlements, and to foment the jealousy between 
the Eastern and Southern States. By the former, the population 
of the Western Country, it may be expected, will be checked, 
and the Mississippi so far secured; and, by both, the general 
security of Spanish America be promoted. 

As far as I can learn, the assent of nine States in Congress 
will not at this time be got to the projected treaty; but an un 
successful attempt by six or seven will favor the views of Spain, 
and be fatal, I fear, to an augmentation of the federal authority, 
if not to the little now existing. My personal situation is ren 
dered by this business particularly mortifying. Ever since I 
have been out of Congress I have been inculcating on our As 
sembly a confidence in the equal attention of Congress to the 
rjghts and interests of every part of the Republic, and on the 
Western members, in particular, the necessity of making the 
Union respectable by new powers to Congress, if they wished 
Congress to negociate with effect for the Mississippi. 

I leave to Col. Monroe the giving you a particular account 
of the impost. The acts of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New 
York, must be revised and amended in material points before 
it can be put in force, and even then the fetters put on the col 
lection by some other States will make it a very awkward busi 
ness. Your favor of 25th of April, from London, found me 
here. My letter from Richmond at the close of the Assembly 
will have informed you of the situation in which British debts 
stand in Virginia. Unless Congress say something on the sub 
ject, I do not think anything will be done by the next session. 
The expectations of the British Merchants coincide with the 
information I had received, as your opinion of the steps proper 
to be taken by the Assembly do with those for which I have 
ineffectually contended. The merits of Mr. Paradise will ensure 


every attention from me to his claim, as far as general principles 
will admit. 

The catalogues sent by Mr. Skipwith I do not expect to re 
ceive till I get back to Virginia. If you meet with " Grcecorum 
Respublicas ab Ubbone Emmio descriptae," Sugd. Batavorum, 
1632, pray get it for me. 


PHILADELPHIA, August 15th. 1786. 

DEAR SIR- * * * * * * 
I am sorry the development of the interesting subject before 
Congress* had so little effect on the members. I did not see 
General St. Clair, and if 1 had, my acquaintance is too slender 
to have warranted my broaching a conversation with him. I 
have conferred freely with Mr. Wilson. What his ultimate 
opinion may be on a full view of the measure in its details, I 
cannot say. I think he is not unaware of strong objections 
against it, particularly as it tends to defeat the object of the 
meeting at Annapolis, from which he has great expectations. 


PHILADELPHIA, August 17th, 1786. 

D K SIR, I have your favor of the 14th inst. The expedientt 
of which you ask my opinion has received, as it deserved, all the 

* Jay s proposition. 

f "It has occurred to Grayson and myself to propose to Congress that nego- 
ciations be carried on with Spain upon the following principles : 1. That exports 
be admitted through the Mississippi to some free port, perhaps New Orleans, to 
pay there a toll to Spain of about 3 per centum ad valorem, and to be carried 
thence under the regulations of Congress. 2. That imports shall pass into the 
western Country through the ports of the United States only. 3. That this sac 
rifice be given up to obtain in other respects a beneficial treaty." Extract from 
Mr. Monroe s letter referred to. 

1786. LETTERS. 249 

consideration which the time and other circumstances would 
allow me to give. I think- that, in the present state of things, 
such an arrangement would be beneficial, and even pleasing to 
those most concerned in it; and yet I doubt extremely the pol 
icy of your proposing it to Congress. The objections which 
occur to me are: 1. That if the temper and views of Congress 
be such as you apprehend, it is morally certain they Avould not 
enter into the accommodation. Nothing, therefore, would be 
gained, and you would have to combat under the disadvantage of 
having forsaken your first ground. 2. If Congress should adopt 
your expedient as a ground of negociation with Guardoqui, and 
the views of Spain be such as they must be apprehended to be, 
it is still more certain that it would be rejected on that side, 
especially under the flattering hopes which the spirit of conces 
sion in Congress must have raised. In this event, the patrons 
of the measure now before Congress would return to it with 
greater eagerness and with fresh arguments, drawn from the 
impossibility of making better terms, and from the relaxation 
into which their opponents will have been betrayed. It is even 
possible that a foresight of this event might induce a politic 
concurrence in the experiment. 

Your knowledge of all circumstances will make you a better 
judge of the solidity or fallacy of these reflections than I can 
be. I do not extend them because it would be superfluous, as 
well as because it might lead to details which could not pru 
dently be committed to the mail without the guard of a cypher. 
Not foreseeing that any confidential communication on paper 
would happen between us during my absence from Virginia, I 
did not bring mine with me. 


ANNAPOLIS, September llth, 1786. 

DEAR SIR, I have two letters from you not yet acknowl 
edged, one of the 1st, the other of the 3d instant. Nothing could 
be more distressing than the issue of the business stated in the 

250 WORKS OF MADISON. 1786. 

latter. If the affirmative vote of seven States should be pur 
sued, it will add the insult of trick to the injury of the thing 

Our prospect here makes no amends for what is done with 
you. Delaware, New Jersey, and Virginia, alone arc on the 
ground; two Commissioners attend from New York, and one 
from Pennsylvania. Unless the sudden attendance of a much 
more respectable number takes place it is proposed to break up 
the meeting, with a recommendation of another time and place, 
and an intimation of the expediency of extending the plan to 
other defects of the Confederation. In case of a speedy dis 
persion, I shall find it requisite to ride back as far as Philadel 
phia before I proceed to Virginia, from which place, if not from 
this, I will let you know the upshot here. 

I have heard that Col. Grayson was stopped at Trenton, by 
indisposition, on his way to the Assembly of Pennsylvania. I 
hope he is well again, and would write to him, but know not 
whither to address a letter to him. 

Adieu. Yrs aff y . 


PHILADELPHIA, Oct r 5th, 1786. 

DEAR SIR, I received yesterday your favor of the 2nd in 
stant, which makes the third for which my acknowledgments 
are due. The progression which a certain measure seems to be 
making is an alarming proof of the predominance of temporary 
and partial interests over those just and extended maxims of 
policy which have been so much boasted of among us, and 
which alone can effectuate the durable prosperity of the Union. 
Should the measure triumph under the patronage of nine States, 
or even of the whole thirteen, I shall never be convinced that 
it is expedient, because I cannot conceive it to be just. 

There is no maxim, in my opinion, which is more liable to be 
misapplied, and which, therefore, more needs elucidation, than 

17GS. LETTERS. 251 

the current one, that the interest of the majority is the political 
standard of right and wrong. Taking the word "interest" as# 
synonymous with "ultimate happiness/ 7 in which sense it is 
qualified with every necessary moral ingredient, the proposition 
is no doubt true. But taking it in the popular sense, as refer 
ring to immediate augmentation of property and wealth, nothing 
can be more false. In the latter sense, it would be the interest 
of the majority in every community to despoil and enslave the 
minority of individuals; and in a federal community, to ni^e a 
similar sacrifice of the minority of the component StatesJ. In 
fact, it is only re-establishing, under another name and a more 
specious form, force as the measure of right; and in this light 
the Western settlements will infallibly view it. 


RICHMOND, Oct r 30th, 1786. 

DEAR SIR, I drop you a few lines rather as a fulfilment of 
my promise than for the purpose of information, since they go 
by Mr. Jones, who is much better acquainted with the politics 
here than myself. 

I find, with pleasure, that the navigation of the Mississippi 
will be defended by the Legislature with as much zeal as could 
be wished. Indeed, the only danger is, that too much resent 
ment may be indulged by many against the federal Councils. 
Paper money has not yet been tried even in any indirect mode 
that could bring forth the mind of the Legislature. Appear 
ances on the subject, however, are rather flattering. Mr. Henry* 
has declined a reappointment to the office he holds, and Mr. 
Randolph is in nomination for his successor, and will pretty 
certainly be elected. R. H. Lee has been talked of, but is not 
yet proposed. The appointments to Congress are a subject of 
conversation, and will be made as soon as a Senate is made. 

* Then Governor of Virginia. 

252 WORKS OF MADISON. 1786. 

Mr. Jones will be included in the new Delegation. Your pres 
ence and communications on the point of the Mississippi are 
exceedingly wished for, and would, in several respects, be ex 
tremely useful. If Mr. Jones does not return in a day or two, 
come without him, I beseech you. I am consulted frequently 
on matters concerning which I cannot or ought not to speak, 
and refer to you as the proper source of information, as far as 
you may be at liberty. Hasten your trip, I again beseech you. 
I hope Mrs. Monroe continues well. My sincerest respects 
wait on her. 

In haste, adieu. Yrs. 


RICHMOND, Nov r 1, 1786. 

DEAR SIR, I have been here too short a time, as yet, to have 
collected fully the politics of the session. In general, appear 
ances are favorable. On the question for a paper emission, the 
measure was this day rejected in emphatical terms by a majority 
of 84 vs. 17. The affair of the Mississippi* is but imperfectly 
known. I find that its influence on the federal spirit will not 
be less than was apprehended. The Western members will not 
be long silent on the subject. I inculcate a hope that the views 
of Congress may yet be changed, and that it would be rash to 
suffer the alarm to interfere with the policy of amending the 
Confederacy. The sense of the House has not yet been tried 
on the latter point. 

The Report from the Deputies to Annapolis lies on the table, 
and I hope will be called for before the business of the Missis 
sippi begins to ferment. Mr. Henry has signified his wish not 
to be re-elected, [Governor,] but will not be in the Assembly. 
The Attorney [Ed. Randolph] and R. H. Lee are in nomina 
tion for his successor. The former will probably be appointed; 

* Mr. Jay s project for shutting it up for 25 years. 

1786. LETTERS. 253 

in which case, the contest for that vacancy will lie between Col. 
Inncs and Mr. Marshall- The nominations for Congress are. 
as usual, numerous. There being no Senate yet, it is uncertain 
when any of these appointments will take place. 
With sincerest affection, your s. 


RICHMOND, Nov r 1st, 1786. 

Paper money was the subject of discussion this day, and was 
voted, by a majority of 84 against 17, to be "unjust, impolitic, 
destructive of public and private confidence, and of that virtue 
which is the basis of Republican Government." Our Revenue 
matters have also been on the anvil; several changes in our 
taxes are proposed, and it is not unlikely that some will take 
place. Duties on imports will be urged, as far as they can be 
guarded against smuggling by land, as well as by water. Gov 
ernor Henry declines a reappointment, but does not come into 
the Assembly. The Attorney or R. H. Lee, probably the for 
mer, will supply his place. 

We learn that great commotions are prevailing in Massa 
chusetts. An appeal to the Sword is exceedingly dreaded. 
The discontented, it is said, are as numerous as the friends of 
Government, and more decided in their measures. Should they 
get uppermost, it is uncertain what may be the effect. They 
profess to aim only at a reform of their Constitution, and of 
certain abuses in the public administration; but an abolition of 
debts, public and private, and a new division of property, are 
strongly suspected to be in contemplation. 

We also learn that a general combination of the Indians 
threatens the frontier of the United States. Congress are 
planning measures for warding off the blow, one of which is 
an augmentation of the federal troops to upwards of 2,000 men. 
In addition to these ills, it is pretty certain that a formidable 


party in Congress are bent on surrendering the Mississippi to 
Spain, for the sake of some commercial stipulations. The pro 
ject has already excited much heat within that Assembly, and, 
if pursued, will not fail to alienate the Western Country and 
confirm the animosity and jealousy already subsisting between 
the Atlantic States. I fear that, although it should be frus 
trated, the effects already produced will be a great bar to our 
amendment of the Confederacy, which I consider as essential to 
its continuance. I have letters from Kentucky which inform 
me that the expedition against the Indians has prevented the 
meeting which was to decide the question of their Independ 
ence. It is probable the news relative to the surrender of the 
Mississippi will lessen the disposition to separate. 

If the bacon left behind by John should not have been sent, 
it need not be sent at all. Fresh butter will, from time to time, 
continue to be very acceptable. My best regards to my mother 
and the family. 

Your affectionate and dutiful son. 


RICHMOND, Nov r 8th, 1780. 

DEAR SIR, I am just honored with your favor of the 5th 
instant. The intelligence from General Knox* is gloomy in 
deed, but it is less so than the colours in which I had it through 
another channel. If the lessons which it inculcates should not 
work the proper impressions on the American public, it will be 
a proof that our case is desperate. 

Judging from the present temper and apparent views of our 
Assembly, I have some ground for leaning to the side of hope. 
The vote against paper money has been followed by two others 
of great importance. By one of them, petitions for applying a 
scale of depreciation to the military certificates was unanimously 

* Respecting Shave s Rebellion in Massachusetts. 



rejected. By the other, the expediency of complying with the 
Recommendation from Annapolis in favour of a general revision 
of the federal system was unanimously agreed to. A Bill for 
the purpose is now depending, and in a form which attests the 
most federal spirit. As no opposition has been yet made, and 
it is ready for the third reading, I expect it will soon be before 
the public. It has been thought advisable to give this subject 
a very solemn dress, and all the weight that could be derived 
from a single State. This idea will be pursued in the selection 
of characters to represent Virginia in the federal Convention. 
You will infer our earnestness on this point from the liberty 
which will be used of placing your name at the head of them. 
How far this liberty may correspond with the ideas by which 
you ought to be governed will be best decided when it must 
ultimately be decided. In every event, it will assist powerfully 
in marking the zeal of our Legislature, and its opinion of the 
magnitude of the occasion. 

Mr. Randolph has been elected successor to Mr. Henry. He 
had 77 votes, Col. Bland 26, and R. H. Lee 22. The delega 
tion to Congress drops Col. H. Lee, a circumstance which gives 
much pain to those who attend to the mortification in which it 
involves a man of sensibility. I am yet to learn the ground of 
the extensive disapprobation which has shewn itself. 

I am, dear sir, most respectfully and affectionately your s. 

[Notes of a speech made by Mr. Madison in the House of Delegates of Vir 
ginia, in November, 1786, in opposition to paper-money.] 

1. Being redeemable at future day. and 

Unequal to specie. J . . . . _ T11 L i i 

not bearing interest. 2. Illustrated by 
case of bank notes, stock in funds, paper of Spain issued during 
late war, (See Neckar on finance,) navy bills, tallies. 3. Being 
of less use than specie, which answers externally as well as 
internally, must be of less value, which depends on the use. 

1. To creditors of a legal tender. 2. 

To debtors, if not legal tender, by increas- 

256 WORKS OF MADISON. 1786. 

ing difficulty of getting specie. This it does by increasing ex 
travagance and unfavorable balance of trade, and by destroy 
ing that confidence between man and man by which resources 
of one may be commanded by another. 3. Illustrated 1. By 
raising denomination of coin. 2. Increasing alloy of d; 
brass made as silver by the Romans, according to Sallust. 3. 
By changing weights and measures. 4. By case of creditors 
within who are debtors without the State. 

1. Affects rights of property as much 

Unconstitutional. -, i -, -, --M 

as taking away equal value in land ; illus 
trated by case of land paid for down, and to be conveyed in 
future, and of a law for remitting conveyance, to be satisfied 
by conveying a part only, or other land of inferior quality. 2. 
Affects property without trial by jury. 

Right of regulating coin given to Con- 

Anti-federal. & i -n / 

gress lor two reasons: 1. For sake ol uni 
formity. 2. To prevent frauds in States towards each other or 
foreigners. Both these reasons hold equally as to paper money. 
1. Produce of country will bring in 

Unnecessary. . . p . > > . . n , 

specie, it not laid out in superfluities. 2. 
Of paper, if necessary, enough already in Tobacco notes and 
public securities. 3. The true mode of giving value to these, 
and bringing in specie, is to enforce justice and taxes. 

1. By fostering luxury, extends instead 

Pernicious. / * j- 

of curing scarcity of specie. 2. By dis 
abling compliance with requisition of Congress. 3. Sowing 
dissentions between States. 4. Destroying confidence between 
individuals. 5. Discouraging commerce. 6. Enriching collec 
tors and sharpers. 7. Vitiating morals. 8. Reversing end of 
government, which is to reward best and punish worst. 9. 
Conspiring with the examples of other States to disgrace 
republican governments in the eyes of mankind. 

Objection. Paper money good before the war. 

1. Not true in New England, nor in 

Answer. . . 

Virginia, where exchange rose to 60 per 
cent., nor in Maryland. See Franklin on paper money. 2. 

1786. LETTERS. 257 

Confidence then ; not now. 3. Principles of paper credit not 
then understood; such would not then, nor now, succeed in 
Great Britain, &c. 
Advantages from rejecting paper : 

1. Distinguish the State and its credit. 

2. Draw commerce and specie. 

3. Set honorable example to other States. 


RICHMOND, Nov. 16th, 1786. 
HON D SIR, ******* 

The House of Delegates have done little since my last, and 
what was then done is still ineffectual for want of a Senate. 
A proposition for stopping the receipt of indents was made, 
and met with so little countenance that it was withdrawn. 
They will continue to be receivable as far as the law now per 
mits, and those who have them not would do well to provide 
them. A bill is depending which makes Tobacco receivable in 
lieu of the specie part of the current tax, according to its value 
at the different Warehouses. Whether it will pass or not is 
uncertain. I think it most probable that it will pass. Nothing 

has yet been done as to the certificate tax. 



November 24th. 1786. 

HON D Sm, The House of Delegates have just passed a bill 
making Tobacco receivable in the tax at the market price at 
the several Warehouses to be fixt by the Executive. There is 
a proviso that the highest price shall not exceed 28s. An 
equality of price throughout was contended for, which I dis 
approved: 1. Because I think it would have been unjust. 2. 
Because the bill could not have been carried in that form. I 
was not anxious for its success in any form, but acquiesced in 

VOL. i. 17 


it as it stands, as the people may consider it in the light of an 
easement, and as it may prevent some worse project in the 

# # * # 

[The following Petition for the repeal of the Law incorporating the Protestant 
Episcopal Church in Virginia, passed in 1784, is found among the papers of Mr. 
Madison, and in his handwriting.*] 

To the Honorable tJie Speaker and gentlemen the General Assem 
bly of Virginia : 

We, the subscribers, members of the Protestant Episcopal 
Church, claim the attention of your honorable body to our 
objections to the law passed at the last session of Assembly 
for incorporating the Protestant Episcopal Church; and we 
remonstrate against the said law 

Because the law admits the power of the Legislative Body 
to interfere in matters of Religion, which we think is not 
included in their jurisdiction: 

Because the law was passed on the petition of some of the 
clergy of the Protestant Episcopal Church, without any appli 
cation from the other members of that church on whom the law 
is to operate ; and we conceive it to be highly improper that 
the Legislature should regard as the sense of the whole church 
the opinion of a few interested members, who were in most 
instances originally imposed on the people without their con 
sent, and who were not authorized by even the smallest part of 
this community to make such a proposition: 

Because the law constitutes the clergy members of a conven 
tion who are to legislate for the laity, contrary to their funda 
mental right in chusing their own Legislators: 

Because by that law the most obnoxious and unworthy Cler 
gyman cannot be removed from a parish except by the deter 
mination of a body, one half of whom the people have no con- 

* The Law referred to was repealed in 1786. 

1786. LETTERS. 259 

fidence in, and who will always have the same interest with tht 
Minister whose conduct they are to judge of: 

Because by that law power is given to the Convention to 
regulate matters of faith, and the obsequious vestries are to 
engage to change their opinions as often as the Convention 
shall alter theirs: 

Because a system so absurd and servile will drive the mem 
bers of the Episcopal church over to other sects, where there 
will be more consistency and liberty: 

We therefore hope that the wisdom and impartiality of the 
present Assembly will incline them to repeal a law so pregnant 
with mischief and injustice. 


RICHMOND, December 4th, 1786. 

DEAR SIR, The recommendation from the meeting at An 
napolis, of a plenipotentiary Convention in Philadelphia in May 
next, has been well received by the Assembly here. Indeed, 
the evidence of dangerous defects in the confederation has at 
length proselyted the most obstinate adversaries to a reform. 
The unanimous sanction given by the Assembly to the inclosed 
compliance with the Recommendation marks sufficiently the 
revolution of sentiment which the experience of one year has 
effected in this country. The deputies are not yet appointed. 
It is expected that General Washington, the present Governor, 
E. Randolph, and the late one, Mr. Henry, will be of the 

The project for bartering the Mississippi to Spain was brought 
before the Assembly after the preceding measure had been 
adopted. The report of it having reached the ears of the West 
ern Representatives, as many of them as were on the spot, 
backed by a number of the late officers, presented a memorial, 
full of consternation and complaint; in consequence of which, 
some very pointed Resolutions, by way of instruction to the 
Delegates in Congress, were unanimously entered into by the 

260 WORKS OF MADISON. 1786. 

House of Delegates. They are now before the Senate, who will 
no doubt be also unanimous in their concurrence. 

The question of paper money was among the first with which 
the session opened. It was introduced by petitions from two 
Counties. The discussion was faintly supported by a few ob 
scure patrons of the measure, and, on the vote, it was thrown 
out by 85 against 17. A petition for paying off the public se 
curities according to a scale of their current prices was unani 
mously rejected. 

The consideration of the Revised Code has been resumed, and 
prosecuted pretty far towards its conclusion. I find, however, 
that it will be impossible, as well as unsafe, to give an ultimate 
fiat to the system at this session. The expedient I have in view 
is to provide for a supplemental revision by a Committee, who 
shall accommodate the bills skipped over, and the subsequent 
laws, to such part of the Code as has been adopted, suspending 
the operation of the latter for one year longer. Such a work 
is rendered indispensable by the alterations made in some of 
the bills in their passage, by the change of circumstances, which 
call for corresponding changes in sundry bills which have been 
laid by, and by the incoherence between the whole Code and 
the laws in force of posterior date to the Code. This business 
has consumed a great deal of the time of two sessions, and has 
given infinite trouble to some of us. We have never been with 
out opponents, who contest, at least, every innovation inch by 
inch. The bill proportioning crimes and punishments, on which 
we were wrecked last year, has, after undergoing a number of 
alterations, got through a Committee of the whole; but it has 
not yet been reported to the House, where it will meet with 
the most vigorous attack. I think the chance is rather against 
its final passage in that branch of the Assembly; and if it should 
not miscarry there, it will have another gauntlet to run through 
the Senate. 

The bill on the subject of Education, which could not safely 
be brought into discussion at all last year, has undergone a 
pretty indulgent consideration this. In order to obviate the 
objection from the inability of the Country to bear the expence, 

1786. LETTERS. 261 

it was proposed that it should be passed into a law, but its op 
eration suspended for three or four years. Even in this form, 
however, there would be hazard in pushing it to a final ques 
tion, and I begin to think it will be best to let it lie over for 
the supplemental Revisors, who may, perhaps, be able to put it 
into some shape that will lessen the objection of expence. I 
should have no hesitation at this policy if I saw a chance of 
getting a Committee equal to the work of compleating the re 
vision. Mr. Pendleton is too far gone to take any part in it. 
Mr. Wythe, I suppose, will not decline any duty which may be 
imposed on him, but it seems almost cruel to tax his patriotic 
zeal any farther. Mr. Blair is the only remaining character in 
which full confidence could be placed. 

The delay in the administration of Justice from the accumu 
lation of business in the General Court, and despair of obtain 
ing a reform according to the Assize plan, have led me to give 
up this plan in favor of district Courts, which differ from the 
former in being clothed with all the powers of the General 
Court within their respective districts. The bill on the latter 
plan will be reported in a few days, and will probably, though 
not certainly, be adopted. 

The fruits of the impolitic measures taken at the last session 
with regard to taxes are bitterly tasted now. Our Treasury is 
empty, no supplies have gone to the federal treasury, and our 
internal embarrassments torment us exceedingly. The present 
Assembly have good dispositions on the subject, but some time 
will elapse before any of their arrangements can be productive. 
In one instance only, the general principles of finance have been 
departed from. The specie part of the tax under collection is 
made payable in Tobacco. This indulgence to the people, as it 
is called and considered, was so warmly wished for out of doors, 
and so strenuously pressed within, that it could not be rejected 
without danger of exciting some worse project of a popular 
cast. As Tobacco alone is made commutable, there is reason 
to hope the public treasury will suffer little, if at all. It may 
possibly gain. 

The repeal of the port bill has not yet been attempted. Col. 


Mason has been waited for as the hero of the attack. As it is 
become uncertain whether he will be down at all, the question 
will probably be brought forward in a few days. The repeal, 
were he present, would be morally certain. Under the disad 
vantage of his absence, it is more than probable. The question 
of British debts has also awaited his patronage. I am unable 
to say what the present temper is on that subject, nothing hav 
ing passed that could make trial of it. The repeated disap 
pointments I have sustained in efforts in favor of the Treaty 
make me extremely averse to take the lead in the business 

The public appointments have been disposed of as follows: 
The contest for the chair lay between Col. Bland and Mr. Pren- 
tis. The latter prevailed by a majority of near 20 votes. Mr. 
Harrison, the late Speaker, lost his election in Surrey, which he 
represented last year; and since has been equally unsuccessful 
in his pristine County, Charles City, where he made a second 
experiment. In the choice of a Governor, Mr. E. Randolph 
had a considerable majority of the whole in the first ballot. 
His competitors were Col. Bland and R. H. Lee, each of whom 
had between 20 and 30 votes. The delegation to Congress con 
tained, under the first choice, Grayson, Carrington, R. II. Lee, 
Mr. Jones, and myself. Col. H. Lee, of the last delegation, was 
dropped. The causes were different, I believe, and not very 
accurately known to me. One of them is said to have been his 
supposed heterodoxy touching the Mississippi. Mr. Jones has 
since declined his appointment, and Col. Lee has been reinstated 
by an almost unanimous vote. A vacancy in the Council, pro 
duced by the resignation of Mr. Roane, is filled by Mr. Boiling 
Starke. Cyrus Griffin was a candidate, but was left consider 
ably in the rear. The Attorney Generalship has been conferred 
on Col. Innes. Mr. Marshall had a handsome vote. 

Our summer and fall have been wet beyond all imagination 
in some places, and much so everywhere. The crops of corn 
are in general plentiful. The price up the country will not 
exceed 8 or 10s. In this district it is scarcest and dearest, 
being already as high as 12 or 15s. The crop of Tobacco will 

1786. LETTERS. 263 

fall short considerably, it is calculated, of the last year s. The 
highest and lowest prices in the Country, of the new crop, are 
25 and 20s. A rise is confidently expected. 

My next will be from New York, whither I shall set out as 
soon as the principal business of the Session is over. Till my 
arrival there I postpone communications relative to our national 
affairs, which I shall then be able to make on better grounds, 
as well as some circumstances relative to the affairs of this 
State, which the hurry of the present opportunity restrains me 
from entering into. 



RICHMOND, December 7th, 1786. 

DEAR SIR, Notwithstanding the communications in your fa 
vor of the 18th ult, which has remained until now unacknowl 
edged, it was the opinion of every judicious friend whom I con 
sulted that your name could not be spared from the Deputation 
to the meeting in May, at Philadelphia. It was supposed, in 
the first place, that the peculiarity of the Mission, and its ac 
knowledged pre-eminence over every other public object, may 
possibly reconcile your undertaking it with the respect which 
is justly due, and which you wish to pay, to the late officers of 
the Army; and, in the second place, that although you should 
find that or any other consideration an obstacle to your attend 
ance on the service, the advantage of having your name in the 
front of the appointment, as a mark of the earnestness of Vir 
ginia, and an invitation to the most select characters from every 
part of the Confederacy, ought at all events to be made use of. 
In these sentiments I own I fully concurred, and flatter myself 
that they will at least apologize for my departure from those 
?ield out in your letter. I even flatter myself that they will 
merit a serious consideration with yourself whether the difficul 
ties which you enumerate ought not to give way to them. 


The affair of the Mississippi, which was brought before the 
Assembly in a long memorial from the Western members and 
some of the officers, has undergone a full consideration of both 
Houses. The resolutions printed in the papers were agreed to 
unanimously in the House of Delegates. In the Senate, I am 
told, the language was objected to by some members as too 
pointed. They certainly express in substance the decided sense 
of the Country at this time on the subject, and were offered in 
the place of some which went much farther, and which were in 
other respects exceptionable. I am entirely convinced, from 
what I observe here, that unless the project of Congress [for 
ceding to Spain the Mississippi for 25 years] can be reversed, 
the hopes of carrying this State into a proper federal system 
will be demolished. Many of our most federal leading men are 
extremely soured with what has already passed. Mr. Henry, 
who has been hitherto the champion of the federal cause, has 
become a cold advocate, and in the event of an actual sacrifice 
of the Mississippi by Congress, will unquestionably go over to 
the opposite side. I have a letter from Col. Grayson of late 
date, which tells me that nothing further has been done in Con 
gress, and one from Mr. A. Clarke, of New Jersey, which in 
forms me that he expected every day instructions from his 
Legislature for reversing the vote given by the Delegates of 
that State in favor of the project. 

The temper of the Assembly at the beginning of the session 
augured an escape from every measure this year not consonant 
to the proper principles of Legislation. I fear, now, that the 
conclusion will contradict the promising outset. In admitting 
Tobacco for a commutable, we perhaps swerved a little from 
the line in which we set out. I acquiesced in the measure my 
self as a prudential compliance with the clamours within doors 
and without, and as a probable means of obviating more hurt 
ful experiments. I find, however, now, that it either had no 
such tendency, or that schemes were in embryo which I was not 
aware of. A Bill for establishing District Courts has been 
clogged with a plan for installing all debts now due, so as to 
make them payable in three annual portions. What the fate 

178G. LETTERS. 265 

of the experiment will be I know not. It seems pretty certain 
that if it fails, the bill will fail with it. It is urged in support 
of the measure that it will be favorable to debtors and credi 
tors both, and that, without it, the bill for accelerating justice 
would ruin the former and endanger the public repose. The 
objections are so numerous, and of such a nature, that I shall 
myself give up the bill rather than pay such a price for it. 


RICHMOND, Dec r 12th, 1786. 

HON D SIR, The inclosed paper will give you a knowledge 
of the mode and terms on which Tobacco is made a Commu ta 
ble. It also contains some Resolutions of importance relative 
to the navigation of the Mississippi. The Senate have con 
curred in them, though not unanimously. Some of the members 
of that branch objected to the pointedness of the language; 
others doubted the propriety of taking up a subject of so deli 
cate a nature without official information from the delegation 
in Congress. 

The repeal of the port bill was yesterday a subject of discus 
sion, and rejected by 70 against 36, so that the law is likely to 
become permanent. Amendments, however, are necessary, and 
will probably take place. We have a bill depending for estab 
lishing District Courts, differing from the Assize in this respect, 
that the former will be vested with as compleat jurisdiction 
within the District as the General Court exercises over the 
whole State. Unhappily, it is clogged with a clause installing 
all debts among ourselves, so as to make them payable in three 
annual portions. Such an interposition of the law in private 
contracts is not to be vindicated on any Legislative principle 
within my knowledge, and seems obnoxious to the strongest ob 
jections which prevailed against paper money. How it will be 
relished I cannot say, the matter not having yet been taken 
into discussion. I think it probable that it will miscarry, and 
that it will involve the District bill in its fate. 

266 WORKS OF MADISON. 1786. 

No thorough revision of the taxes has yet taken place. The 
inclosed report of a Committee will present some ideas which 
are to be discussed. In general, the bias of the House seems 
to be strongly towards taxes which are to operate indirectly, 
and on articles of luxury. The lawyers and County Court 
clerks are also likely to be squeezed. One-tenth of the fees 
of the former, and one-third of those of the latter, were voted 
to-day to be a proper share for the public. Riding Carriages 
were also voted to be proper objects of additional taxation. 
Coaches, &c., are to pay six dollars per wheel, Phaetons 4 dol 
lars, and Chairs, <fcc., 2 dollars per wheel. Whether these ex 
travagant ideas will be persisted in is uncertain. I can scarcely 

suppose they will, in their full extent. 


The Convention in Kentucky was prevented by the Expedi 
tions into the Indian Country. It is proposed that another 
Convention shall be authorized to decide the question of their 


RICHMOND, December 21st, 1786. 

DEAR SIR * * * * * * * 
We hear nothing from any of the other States on the subject 
of the federal Convention. The ice seems to have intercepted 
totally the Northern communication for a considerable time 
past. The Assembly have been much occupied of late with the 
bill for district Courts. On the final question there was a ma 
jority of one against it, in fact, though on the count a mistake 
made the division equal, and it fell to the Chair to decide, who 
passed the bill. The real majority, however, were sensible of 
the mistake; and refused to agree to the title, threatening a se 
cession at the same time. The result was a compromise, that 
the question should be decided anew the next morning, when 
the bill was lost in a full house by a single voice. It is now 
proposed to extend the Session of the General Court so as to 

1786. LETTERS. 267 

accelerate the business depending there. We hear that Mary 
land is much agitated on the score of paper money, the House 
of Delegates having decided in favour of an emission. 


RICHMOND, December 24th, 1786. 

DEAR SIR, Your favor of the 16th instant came to hand too 
late on thursday evening to be answered by the last mail. I 
have considered well the circumstances which it confidentially 
discloses, as well as those contained in your preceding favor. 
The difficulties which they oppose to an acceptance of the ap 
pointment, in which you are included, can as little be denied as 
they can fail to be regretted. But I still am inclined to think 
that the posture of our affairs, if it should continue, would pre 
vent every criticism on the situation which the cotemporary 
meetings would place you in; and that at least a door could be 
kept open for your acceptance hereafter, in case the gathering 
clouds become so dark and menacing as to supersede every con 
sideration but that of our national existence and safety. A 
suspension of your ultimate determination would be nowise in 
convenient in a public view, as the Executive are authorised to 
fill vacancies, and can fill them at any time; and, in any event, 
three out of seven deputies are authorized to represent the 
State. How far it may be admissible in another view will de 
pend, perhaps, in some measure, on the chance of your finally 
undertaking the service, but principally on the correspondence 
which is now passing on the subject between yourself and the 

Your observations on Tobacco as a commutable in the taxes 
are certainly just and unanswerable. My acquiescence in the 
measure was against every general principle which I have em 
braced, and was extorted by a fear that some greater evil under 
the name of relief to the people would be substituted. I am far 
from being sure, however, that I did right. The other evils 
contended for have, indeed, been as yet parried, but it is very 


questionable whether the concession in the affair of the Tobacco 
had much hand in it. The original object was paper money. 
Petitions for graduating certificates succeeded. Next came in 
stalments. And, lastly, a project for making property a tender 
for debts at four-fifths of its value. All these have been happily 
got rid of by very large majorities. But the positive efforts in 
favor of Justice have been less successful. A plan for reform 
ing the administration in this branch, accommodated more to 
the general opinion than the Assize plan, got as far as the third 
reading, and was then lost by a single vote. The Senate would 
have passed it readily, and would have even added amendments 
of the right complexion. I fear it will be some time before 
this necessary reform will again have a fair chance. Besides 
some other grounds of apprehension, it may well be supposed 
that the Bill, which is to be printed for consideration of the 
public, will, instead of calling forth the sanction of the wise 
and virtuous, be a signal to interested men to redouble their 
efforts to get into the Legislature. 

The Revenue business is still unfinished. The present rage 
seems to be to draw all our income from trade. From the sam 
ple given of the temper of the House of Delegates on this sub 
ject, it is much to be feared that the duties will be augmented 
with so daring a hand, that we shall drive away our trade in 
stead of making it tributary to our Treasury. The only hope 
that can be indulged is that of moderating the fury. The port 
bill was defended against a repeal by about 70 votes against 
about 40. The revised code is not quite finished, and must re 
ceive the last hand from a succeeding Assembly. Several bills 
of consequence being rendered unfit to be passed in their pres 
ent form, by a change of circumstances since they were pre 
pared, necessarily require revision. Others, as the Education 
bill, <fec., are thought to be adapted only to a further degree of 
wealth and population. Others, as the Execution bill, which 
subjects lands to debts, do not find yet an adequate patronage. 
Several bills, also, and particularly the bill relating to crimes 
and punishments, have been rejected, and require reconsidera 
tion from another Assembly. This last bill, after being purged 

1787. LETTERS. 269 

of its objectionable peculiarities, was thrown out on the third 
reading by a single vote. 

It will little elevate your idea of our Senate to be told that 
they negatived the bill defining the privileges of Ambassadors, 
on the principle, as I am told, that an alien ought not to be put 
on better ground than a citizen. British debts have not yet 
been mentioned, and probably will not, unless Congress say 
something on the matter before the adjournment. 


RICHMOND, January 9th, 1787. 

MY DEAR SIR, Your favor of the 9th ultimo has been so 
long on hand unanswered, that I cannot now acknowledge it 
without observing, in the apology for the delay, that I waited 
for some measures of which I wished to communicate the event. 
The district bill, of which I formerly made mention, was finally 
thrown into a very curious situation, and lost by a single voice. 
I refer you for its history to Col. Pendleton, who was here at 
the time, and is now with you. An attempt has been since made 
to render the General Court more efficient, by lengthening its 
terms, and transferring the criminal business to the Judges of 
the Admiralty. As most of the little motives which co-operated 
with a dislike to Justice in defeating the District Bill happened 
to be in favour of the subsequent attempt, it went through the 
House of Delegates by a large majority. The Senate have dis 
appointed the majority infinitely in putting a negative on it, as 
we just learn that they have done, by a single voice. An 
amendment of the County Courts has also been lost, through a 
disagreement of the two Houses on the subject. Our merit on 
the score of Justice has been entirely of the negative kind. It 
has been sufficient to reject violations of this cardinal virtue, 
but not to make any positive provisions in its behalf. 

The revised code has not been so thoroughly passed as 1 
hoped at the date of my last. The advance of the session, the 
coldness of a great many, and the dislike of some to the subject, 

270 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

required that it should be pressed more gently than could be 
reconciled with a prosecution of the work to the end. I had 
long foreseen that a supplemental revision, as well of some of 
the articles of the Code as of the laws passed since it was di 
gested, would become necessary, and had settled a plan for the 
purpose with myself. This plan was to suspend the laws adopted 
from the Code until the supplement could be prepared, and 
then to put the whole in force at once. Several circumstances 
satisfied me of late, that if the work was put within the reach of 
the next Assembly, there would be danger not only of its being 
left in a mutilated state, but of its being lost altogether. The 
observations in your favor above acknowledged encouraged 
me to propose that the parts of the Code adopted should take 
effect without waiting for the last hand to it. This idea has 
been pursued, and the bills passed at the last session are to 
commence as then determined, those passed at the present being 
suspended until July next. 

I would myself have preferred a suspension of the former 
also till July, for the sake of a more thorough promulgation, 
and of a cotemporary introduction of the laws, many of which 
are connected together; but the Senate thought otherwise, and 
in a ticklish stage of the session, the friends of the code in the 
House of Delegates joined me in opinion that it would be well 
to create no unnecessary delays or disagreements. I have 
strong apprehensions that the work may never be systemati 
cally perfected, for the reasons which you deduce from our 
form of Government. Should a disposition, however, continue 
in the Legislature as favorable as it has been in some stages of 
the business, I think a succession of revisions, each growing 
shorter than the preceding, might ultimately bring a completion 
within the compass of a single session. At all events, the in 
valuable acquisition of important bills, prepared at leisure by 
skilful hands, is so sensibly impressed on thinking people by 
the crudeness and tedious discussion of such as are generally 
introduced, that the expence of a continued revision will be 
thought by all such to be judiciously laid out for this purpose 

1787. LETTERS. 271 

The great objection which I personally feel arises from the 
necessity we are under of imposing the weight of these projects 
on those whose past services have so justly purchased an ex 
emption from future labours. In your case, the additional con 
sideration of ill health became almost an affair of conscience, 
and I have been no otherwise able to stifle the remorse of hav 
ing nominated you, along with Mr. Wythe and Mr. Blair, for 
reviewing the subject left unfinished, than by reflecting that 
your colleagues will feel every disposition to abridge your share 
of the burden, and in case of such an increase of your infirmity 
as to oblige you to renounce all share, that they are authorised 
to appoint to, I will not say to fill, the vacancy. I flatter my 
self that you will be at least able to assist in general consulta 
tions on the subject, and to adjust the bills unpassed to the 
changes which have taken place since they were prepared. On 
the most unfortunate suppositions, my intentions will be sure to 
find in your benevolence a pardon for my error. 

The Senate have saved our commerce from a dreadful blow 
which it would have sustained from a bill passed in the House 
of Delegates, imposing enormous duties, without waiting for the 
concurrence of the other States, or even of Maryland. There 
is a rage at present for high duties, partly for the purpose of 
revenue, partly of forcing manufactures, which it is difficult to 
resist. It seems to be forgotten, in the first case, that in the 
arithmetic of the customs, as Dean Swift observes, 2 and 2 do 
not make four; and in the second, that manufactures will come 
of themselves when we are ripe for them. A prevailing argu 
ment, among others on the subject, is, that we ought not to be 
dependent on foreign nations for useful articles, as the event of 
a war may cut off all external supplies. This argument cer 
tainly loses its force when it is considered that, in case of a 
war hereafter, we should stand on very different ground from 
what we lately did. Neutral nations, whose rights are becom 
ing every day more and more extensive, would not now suffer 
themselves to be shut out from our ports, nor would the hostile 
Nation presume to attempt it. As far as relates to implements 


of war, which are contraband, the argument for our fabrication 
of them is certainly good. 

Our latest information from the Eastward has not removed our 
apprehensions of ominous events in that quarter. It is pretty 
certain that the seditious party has become formidable to the 
Government, and that they have opened a communication with 
the viceroy of Canada. I am not enough acquainted with the 
proceedings of Congress to judge of some of the points which 
you advert to. The regulations of their land office have ap 
peared to me nearly in the light in which they do to you. 

I expect to set out in a few days for New York, when I shall 
revive my claim to a correspondence which formerly gave me 
so much pleasure, and which will enable me, perhaps, to answer 
your queries. The end of my paper will excuse an abrupt but 
affectionate adieu. 


NEW YORK, February 15th, 1787. 

DEAR SIR, My last was from Richmond, of the 4th of De 
cember, and contained a sketch of our Legislative proceedings 
prior to that date. 

The principal proceedings of subsequent date relate, as 
nearly as I can recollect, 1 st , to a rejection of the Bill on 
crimes and punishments, which, after being altered so as to 
remove most of the objections, as was thought, was lost by a 
single vote. The rage against Horse-stealers had a great 
influence on the fate of the bill. Our old bloody code is by 
this event fully restored, the prerogative of conditional pardon 
having been taken from the Executive by a judgment of the 
Court of Appeals, and the temporary law granting it to them 
having expired, and been left unrevived. I am not without hope 
that the rejected bill will find a more favorable disposition in 
the next Assembly. 2 dly . To the bill for diffusing knowledge ; 

17<7. LETTERS. 273 

it went through two readings by a small majority, and was no* 
pushed to a third one. The necessity of a systematic provision 
on the subject was admitted on all hands. The objections 
against that particular provision were: 1. The expence, which 
was alleged to exceed the ability of the people. 2. The diffi 
culty of executing it in the present sparse settlement of the 
country. 3. The inequality of the districts, as contended by the 
Western members. The last objection is of little weight, and 
might have been easily removed if it had been urged in an 
early stage of the discussion. The bill now rests on the same 
footing with the other unpassed Bills in the Revisal. 

3 dly . To the Revisal at large. It was found impossible to 
get through the system at the late session, for several reasons : 
1. The changes which have taken place, since its compilement, 
in our affairs and our laws, particularly those relating to our 
Courts, called for changes in some of the bills, which could not 
be made with safety by the Legislature. 2. The pressure of 
other business, which, though of less importance in itself, yet 
was more interesting for the moment. 3. The alarm excited 
by an approach toward the Execution bill, which subjects land 
to the payment of debts. This bill could not have been carried, 
was too important to be lost, and even too difficult to be 
amended without destroying its texture. 4. The danger of 
passing the Repealing Bill at the end of the Code, before the 
operation of the various amendments, <fcc., made by the Assem 
bly, could be leisurely examined by competent Judges. Under 
these circumstances, it was thought best to hand over the residue 
of the work to our successors ; and in order to have it made 
compleat, Mr. Pendleton, Mr. Wythe, and Blair, were appointed 
a Committee to amend the unpassed bills, and also to prepare a 
supplemental revision of the laws which have been passed since 
the original work was executed. 

It became a critical question with the friends of the Revisal 
whether the parts of the Revisal actually passed should be 
suspended in the mean time, or left to take their operation. 
The first plan was strongly recommended by the advantage of 
giving effect to the system at once, and by the inconveniency 

VOL. i. 18 

274 WORKS OF MADISON. 17*7. 

arising from the latter, of leaving the old laws to a constructive 
repeal only. The latter, notwithstanding, was preferred, as 
putting the adopted bills out of the reach of a succeeding As 
sembly, which might possibly be unfriendly to the system alto 
gether. There was good reason to suspect Mr. Henry, who 
will certainly be then a member. By suffering the bills which 
have passed to take effect in the mean time, it will be extremely 
difficult to get rid of them. 

4 th:y . Religion. The act incorporating the protestant Epis 
copal Church excited the most pointed opposition from the 
other sects. They even pushed their attacks against the reser 
vation of the Glebes, &c., to the church exclusively. The 
latter circumstance involved the Legislature in some embar 
rassment. The result was a repeal of the act, with a saving of 
the property. 5 th . The district Courts. After a great struggle, 
they were lost in the House of Delegates by a single voice. 
6 thly . Taxes. The attempts to reduce former taxes were baffled, 
and sundry new taxes added : on lawyers, yV of their fees on 
Clerks of Courts, J of do.; on Doctors, a small tax; a tax on 
houses in towns, so as to level their burden with that of real 
estate in the country ; very heavy taxes on riding carriages, &c. 
Besides these, an additional duty of 2 per cent, ad valorem on 
all merchandises imported in vessels of nations not in treaty 
with the United States, an additional duty of four pence on 
every gallon of wine except French wines, and <if two pence 
on every gallon of distilled spirits except French brandies, 
which are made duty free. The exceptions in favor of France 
were the effect of the sentiments and regulations communicated 
to you by Mr. Calonne. A printed copy of the communication 
was received the last day of the session in a newspaper from 
New York, and made a warm impression on the Assembly. 
Some of the taxes are liable to objections, and were much com 
plained of. With the additional duties on trade, they will con 
siderably enhance our revenue. I should have mentioned a 
duty of 6s. per Hogshead on Tobacco for complying with a 
special requisition of Congress for supporting the corps of men 
raised for the public security. 

1787. LETTERS. 275 

7 th . The Mississippi. At the date of my last, the House of 
Delegates only had entered into Resolutions against a surren 
der of the right of navigating it. The Senate shortly after 
concurred. The States south of Virginia still adhere, as far as 
I can learn, to the same ideas as have governed Virginia. New 
Jersey, one of the States in Congress which was on the oppo 
site side, has now instructed her Delegates against surrendering 
to Spain the navigation of the River, even for a limited time ; 
and Pennsylvania, it is expected, will do the same. I am told 
that Mr. Jay has not ventured to proceed in his project, and I 
suppose will not now do it. 8 th . The Convention for amending 
the federal Constitution. At the date of my last, Virginia had 
passed an act for appointing deputies. The deputation consists 
of General Washington, Mr. Henry, late Governor, Mr. Ran 
dolph, present Governor, Mr. Blair, Mr. Wythe, Col. Mason, 
and James Madison. 

North Carolina has also made an appointment, including her 
present and late Governor. South Carolina, it is expected by 
her delegates in Congress, will not fail to follow these exam 
ples. Maryland has determined, I just hear, to appoint, but has 
not yet agreed on her deputies. Delaware, Pennsylvania, and 
New Jersey, have made respectable appointments. New York 
has not yet decided on the point. Her Assembly has just re 
jected the impost, which has an unpropitious aspect. It is not 
clear, however, that she may not yet accede to the other meas 
ure. Connecticut has a great aversion to Conventions, and is 
otherwise habitually disinclined to abridge her State preroga 
tives. Her concurrence, nevertheless, is not despaired of. Mas 
sachusetts, it is said, will concur, though hitherto not well in 
clined. New Hampshire will probably do as she does. Rhode 
Island can be relied on for nothing that is good. On all great 
points, she must sooner or later bend to Massachusetts and Con 

Having but just come to this place, I do not undertake to 
give you any general view of American affairs, or of the partic 
ular state of things in Massachusetts. The omission is proba 
bly of little consequence, as information of this sort must fall 

276 WORKS OF MADISON. 1737. 

within your correspondence with the office of foreign affairs. 
I shall not, however, plead this consideration in a future letter, 
when I hope to be more able to write fully. 


NEW YORK, Feb. 21, 1787. 

DEAR SIR, Some little time before my arrival here, a quorum 
of the States was made up, and General St. Clair put in the 
Chair. We have at present nine States on the ground, but shall 
lose South Carolina to-day. Other States are daily expected. 
What business of moment may be done by the present or a fuller 
meeting is uncertain. 

The objects now depending and most immediately in prospect 
are: 1. The Treaty of Peace. The Secretary of foreign Affairs 
has very ably reported a view of the infractions on both sider?, 
his exposition of the contested articles, and the steps proper to 
be taken by Congress. I find, what I was not before apprized 
of, that more than one infraction on our part preceded even the 
violation on the other side in the instance of the negroes. Some 
of the reasoning on the subject of the debts would be rather 
grating to Virginia. A full compliance with the Treaty accord 
ing to judicial constructions, and as a ground for insisting on a 
reciprocal compliance, is the proposition in which the Report 
terminates. 2. A recommendation of the proposed Convention 
in May. Congress have been much divided and embarrassed 
on the question whether their taking an interest in the measure 
would impede or promote it. On one side it has been urged 
that some of the backward States have scruples against acce 
ding to it without some constitutional sanction; on the other, 
that other States will consider any interference of Congress as 
proceeding from the same views which have hitherto excited 
their jealousies. A vote of the Legislature here, entered into 
yesterday, will give some relief in the case. They have in 
structed their delegates in Congress to move for the reconsid- 

1787 LETTERS. 277 

eration in question. The vote was carried by a majority of one 
only in the Senate, and there is room to suspect that the minor 
ity were actuated by a dislike to the substance, rather than by 
any objection against the form of the business. A large majority 
in the other Branch a few days ago put a definitive veto on the 

It would seem as if the politics of this State are directed by 
individual interests and plans, which might be incommoded by 
the controul of an efficient federal Government. The four States 
north of it are still to make their decision on the subject of the 
Convention. I am told by one of the Massachusetts delegates 
that the Legislature of that State, which is now sitting, will 
certainly accede and appoint Deputies if Congress declare their 
approbation of the measure. I have similar information that 
Connecticut will probably come in, though it is said that the 
interference of Congress will rather have a contrary tendency 
there. It is expected that South Carolina will not fail to adopt 
the plan, and that Georgia is equally well disposed. All the 
intermediate States between the former and New York have 
already appointed Deputies, except Maryland, which, it is said, 
means to do it, and has entered into some vote which declares 
as much. Nothing has yet been done by the new Congress with 
regard to the Mississippi. 

Our latest information from Massachusetts gives hopes that 
the meeting, or, as the Legislature there now style it, the Re 
bellion, is nearly extinct. If the measures, however, on foot for 
disarming and disfranchising those concerned in it should be 
carried into effect, a new crisis may be brought on. 

I have not been here long enough to gather the general senti 
ments of leading characters touching our affairs and prospects. 
I am inclined to hope that they will gradually be concentered 
in the plan of a thorough reform of the existing system. Those 
who may lean towards a monarchical government, and who, I 
suspect, are swayed by very indigested ideas, will of course 
abandon an unattainable object whenever a prospect opens of 
rendering the Republican form competent to its purposes. Those 
who remain attached to the latter form must soon perceive that 

278 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

it cannot be preserved at all under any modification which does 
not redress the ills experienced from our present establish 
ments. Virginia is the only State which has made any provis 
ion for the late moderate but essential requisition of Congress, 
and her provision is a partial one only. 

This would have been of earlier date, but I have waited for 
more interesting subjects for it. I shall do myself the pleasure 
of repeating the liberty of dropping you a few lines as often as 
proper occasions arise, on no other condition, however, than 
your waiving the trouble of regular answers or acknowledge 
ments on your part. 

With the greatest respect and affection, I am, D* Sir, your 
obt friend and serv. 


NEW YORK, February 24, 1787. 

DEAR SIR, If the contents of the newspapers of this place 
find their way into the Gazettes of Richmond, you will have 
learnt that the expedition of General Lincoln against the in 
surgents has effectually dispersed the main body of them. It 
appears, however, that there are still some detachments which 
remain to be subdued, and that the government of Massachu 
setts consider very strong precautions as necessary against 
farther eruptions. The principal incendiaries have, unluckily, 
made off. By some it is said that they are gone to Canada; 
by others, that they have taken shelter in Vermont; and by some, 
that they are opening a communication with the upper parts of 
this State. The latter suggestion has probably some color, as 
the Governor here has thought proper to offer rewards for them, 
after the example of Governor Bowdoin. We have no inter 
esting information from Europe. 

The only step of moment taken by Congress, since my arrival, 
has been a recommendation of the proposed meeting in May, for 
revising the federal Articles. Some of the States, considering 

17F7. LETTERS. 279 

this measure as an extra-constitutional one, had scruples against 
concurring in it without some regular sanction. By others, it 
was thought best that Congress should remain neutral in the 
business, as the best antidote for the jealousy of an ambitious 
desire in them to get more power into their hands. This sus 
pense was at length removed by an instruction from this State 
to its delegates to urge a recommendatory Resolution in Con 
gress, which accordingly passed a few days ago. Notwith 
standing this instruction from N. York, there is room to sus 
pect her disposition not to be very federal, a large majority of 
the House of Delegates having very lately entered into a defin 
itive refusal of the impost, and the instruction itself having 
passed in the Senate by a casting vote only. In consequence 
of the sanction given by Congress, Massachusetts, it is said, 
will send Deputies to the Convention, and her example will 
have great weight with the other New England States. The 
States from North Carolina to New Jersey, inclusive, have 
made their appointments, except Maryland, who has, as yet, 
only determined that she will make them. The gentlemen here 
from South Carolina and Georgia expect that those States will 
follow the general example. Upon the whole, therefore, it 
seems probable that a meeting will take place, and that it will 
be a pretty full one. 

What the issue of it will be is among the other arcana of fu 
turity, and nearly as inscrutable as any of them. In general, 
I find men of reflection much less sanguine as to a new, than 
despondent as to the present system. Indeed, the present sys 
tem neither has nor deserves advocates; and if some very strong 
props are not applied, will quickly tumble to the ground. No 
money is paid into the public Treasury; no respect is paid to 
the federal authority. Not a single State complies with the 
requisitions; several pass them over in silence, and some posi 
tively reject them. The payments, ever since the peace, have 
been decreasing, and of late fall short even of the pittance ne 
cessary for the civil list of the Confederacy. It is not possible 
that a Government can last long under these circumstances. 

If the approaching convention should not agree on some rem- 

280 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

edy, I am persuaded that some very different arrangement will 
ensue. The late turbulent scenes in Massachusetts, and infa 
mous ones in Rhode Island, have done inexpressible injury to 
the republican character in that part of the United States, and 
a propensity towards monarchy is said to have been produced 
by it in some leading minds. The bulk of the people will prob 
ably prefer the lesser evil of a partition of the Union into three 
more practicable and energetic governments. The latter idea, 
I find, after long confinement to individual speculations and 
private circles, is beginning to shew itself in the newspapers. 
But though it is a lesser evil, it is so great a one that I hope 
the danger of it will rouse all the real friends of the Revolution 
to exert themselves in favor of such an organization of the Con 
federacy as will perpetuate the Union and redeem the honor of 
the Republican name. 

I shall follow this introductory letter with a few lines from 
time to time, as a proper subject for them occurs. The only 
stipulation I exact on your part is, that you will not consider 
them as claiming either answers or acknowledgements, and that 
you will believe me to be, with sincerest wishes for your health 
and every other happiness, 

Your affectionate friend and serv. 


NEW YORK, Feb^ 25th, 1787. 
HON D SlR * * * * * 

The success of General Lincoln against the insurgents has 
corresponded with the hopes of the Government. It is still said, 
notwithstanding, that there remains a great deal of leven in the 
mass of the people. Connecticut has not caught the fermenta 
tion, but she pays no taxes. Congress received a letter a few 
days ago from the Governor of that State, inclosing a non-com 
pliance of the Assembly with the requisitions of Congress. In 
fact, payments to the federal Treasury are ceasing everywhere, 

1787. LETTERS. 281 

and the minds of people losing all confidence in our political 
system. What change may be wrought by the proposed Con 
vention is uncertain. There is a pro-spect, at present, of pretty 
general appointments to it. 


NEW YORK, March 18th. 1787. 

DEAR SIR, Recollecting to have heard you mention a plan 
formed by the Empress of Russia for a comparative view of the 
Aborigines of the new Continent, and of the N. E. parts of the 
old, through the medium of their respective tongues, and that 
her wishes had been conveyed to you for your aid in obtaining 
the American vocabularies, I have availed myself of an oppor 
tunity, offered by the kindness of Mr. Hawkins, of taking a 
copy of such a sample of the Cherokee and Choctaw dialects as 
his late commission to treat with them enabled him to obtain, 
and do myself the honor now of enclosing it. I do not know 
how far the list of words made use of by Mr. Hawkins may cor 
respond with the standard of the Empress, nor how far nations 
so remote as the Cherokees and Choctaws from the N. W. 
shores of America may fall within the scheme of comparison. 
I presume, however, that a great proportion, at least, of the 
words will answer, and that the laudable curiosity which sug 
gests investigations of this sort will be pleased with every en 
largement of the field for indulging it. Not finding it conve 
nient to retain a copy of the enclosed, as I wished to do, for my 
self, I must ask the favor of your amanuensis to perform that 
task for me. 

The appointments for the Convention go on very successfully. 
Since the date of my last, Georgia, South Carolina, New York, 
Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, have come into the meas 
ure. Georgia and New Hampshire have constituted their Dele 
gates in Congress their representatives in Convention. South 
Carolina has appointed Mr. J. Rutledge, General Pinckney, Mr. 

282 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

Laureus, Major Butler, and Mr. Charles Pinckney, late member 
of Congress. The deputies of Massachusetts are Mr. Dana, Mr. 
King, Mr. Gorham, Mr. Gerry, Mr. Strong. I am told that a 
Resolution of the Legislature of this State, which originated 
with their Senate, lays its deputies under the fetter of not de 
parting from the 5 th of the present articles of Confederation. 
As this Resolution passed before the recommendatory act of 
Congress was known, it is conjectured that it may be rescinded; 
but its having passed at all denotes a much greater prevalence 
of political jealousy in that quarter than had been imagined. 
The deputation of New York consists of Colonel Hamilton, 
Judge Yates, and a Mr. Lansing. The two last are said to be 
pretty much linked to the anti-federal party here, and are likely, 
of course, to be a clog on their colleague. It is not doubted, 
now, that Connecticut and Rhode Island will avoid the singu 
larity of being unrepresented in the Convention. 

The thinness of Congress has been an obstacle to all the im 
portant business before them. At present there are nine States 
on the ground; but this number, though adequate to every ob 
ject when unanimous, makes a slow progress in business that 
requires seven States only. And I see little prospect of the 
number being increased. 

By our latest and most authentic information from Massachu 
setts, it would seem that a calm has been restored by the expe 
dition of General Lincoln. The precautions taking by the 
State, however, betray a great distrust of its continuance. Be 
sides their act disqualifying the malcontents from voting in the 
election of members for the Legislature, <fcc., another has been 
passed for raising a corps of 1,000 or 1,500 men, and appropri 
ating the choicest revenues of the country to its support. It is 
said that at least half of the insurgents decline accepting the 
terms annexed to the amnesty, and that this defiance of the law 
against Treason is countenanced not only by the impunity with 
which they shew themselves on public occasions, even with in 
solent badges of their character, but by marks of popular favor 
conferred on them in various instances in the election to local 

1787. LETTERS. 283 

A proposition has been introduced and discussed in the Legis 
lature of this State for relinquishing its claim to Vermont, and 
urging the admission of it into the Confederacy. As far as I 
can learn, difficulties will arise only in settling the form, the 
substance of the measures being not disliked by any of the par 
ties. It is wished by those who are not interested in claims to 
lands within that district to guard against any responsibility 
in the State for compensation. On the other side, it will at 
least be insisted that they shall not be barred the privilege of 
carrying their claims before a federal court, in case Vermont 
shall become a party to the Union. I think it probable, if she 
should not decline becoming such altogether, that she will make 
two conditions, if not more: 1. That neither her boundaries 
nor the rights of her citizens shall be impeachable under the 
9 th article of Confederation. 2. That no share of the public 
debt already contracted shall be allotted to her. 

I have a letter from Col. John Campbell, dated at Pittsburg, 
from which I gather that the people of that quarter are thrown 
into great agitation by the reported intention of Congress con 
cerning the Mississippi, and that measures are on foot for uni 
ting the minds of all the different settlements which have a 
common interest at stake. Should this policy take effect, I 
think there is much ground to apprehend that the ambition of in 
dividuals will quickly mix itself with the first impulses of resent 
ment and interest; that by degrees the people may be led to set 
up for themselves; that they will slide, like Vermont, insensibly 
into a communication and latent connection with their British 
neighbors, and, in pursuance of the same example, make such a 
disposition of the Western Territory as will entice into it most 
effectually emigrants from all parts of the Union. If these ap 
prehensions be not imaginary, they suggest many observations 
extremely interesting to Spain as well as to the United States. 

I hear from Richmond, with much concern, that Mr. Henry 
has positively declined his mission to Philadelphia. Besides 
the loss of his services on that theatre, there is danger, I fear t 
that this step has proceeded from a wish to leave his conduct 

284 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

unfettered on another theatre, where the result of the Conven 
tion will receive its destiny from his omnipotence. 

With every sentiment of esteem and affection, I remain, Dear 
Sir, your obt and very h ble serv. 


NEW YORK, March 19th, 1787. 

DEAR SIR, My last was of the llth of February, and went 
by the packet. This will go to England in the care of a French 
gentleman, who will consign it to the care of Mr. Adams. 

The appointments for the Convention go on auspiciously. 
Since my last, Georgia, South Carolina, New York, Massachu 
setts, and New Hampshire, have come into the measure. The 
first and the last of these States have commissioned their dele 
gates to Congress as their representatives in Convention. The 
deputation of Massachusetts consists of Mess". Gorham, Dana, 
King, Gerry, and Strong. Thet of New York, Mess". Hamil 
ton, Yates, and Lansing. That of South Carolina, Mess rs . J. 
Rutledge, Laurens, Pinckney, (General,) Butler, and Charles 
Pinckney, lately member of Congress. The States which have 
not yet appointed are Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Mary 
land. The last has taken measures which prove her intention 
to appoint, and the two former it is not doubted will follow the 
example of their neighbours. I just learn from the Governor 
of Virginia that Mr. Henry has resigned his place in the depu 
tation from that State, and that General Nelson is put into it 
by the Executive, who were authorised to fill vacancies. The 
Governor, Mr. Wythe, and Mr. Blair, will attend, and some 
hopes are entertained of Col. Mason s attendance. General 
Washington has prudently authorised no expectations of his 
attendance, but has not either precluded himself absolutely from 
stepping into the field if the crisis should demand it. 

What may be the result of this political experiment cannot 
be foreseen. The difficulties which present themselves are, on 

1787. LETTERS. 285 

one side, almost sufficient to dismay the most sanguine, whilst 
on the other side the most timid are compelled to encounter 
them by the mortal diseases of the existing Constitution. These 
diseases need not be pointed out to you, who so well understand 
them. Suffice it to say, that they are at present marked by 
symptoms which are truly alarming, which have tainted the 
faith of the most orthodox republicans, and which challenge 
from the votaries of liberty every concession in favor of stable 
Government not infringing fundamental principles, as the only 
security against an opposite extreme of our present situation. 

I think myself that it will be expedient, in the first place, to 
lay the foundation of the new system in such a ratification by 
the people themselves of the several States as will render it 
clearly paramount to their Legislative authorities. 2 dly .Fbver 
and above the positive power of regulating trade and sundry 
other matters in which uniformity is proper, to arm the federal 
head with a negative in all cases whatsoever on the local Legis 
latures. Without this defensive power, experience and reflec 
tion have satisfied me that, however ample the federal powers 
may be made, or however clearly their boundaries may be de 
lineated on paper, they will be easily and continually baffled by 
the Legislative sovereignties of the States. The effects of this 
provision would be not only to guard the national rights and 
interests against invasion, but also to restrain the States from 
thwarting and molesting each other; and even from oppressing 
the minority within themselves by paper money and other un 
righteous measures which favor the interest of the majority^ In 
order to render the exercise of such a negative prerogative con 
venient, an emanation of it must be vested in some set of men 
within the several States, so far as to enable them to give a 
temporary sanction to laws of immediate necessity. 3 dly . To 
change the principle of Representation in the federal system. 
Whilst the execution of the acts of Congress depends on the 
several Legislatures, the equality of votes does not destroy the 
inequality of importance and influence in the States. But in 
case of such an augmentation of the federal power as will ren 
der it efficient without the intervention of the Legislatures, a 

286 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

vote in the general Councils from Delaware would be of equal 
value with one from Massachusetts or Virginia. This change, 
therefore, is just. I think, also, it will be practicable. A ma 
jority of the States conceive that they will be gainers by it. It 
is recommended to the Eastern States by the actual superiority 
of their populousness, and to the Southern by their expected 
superiority; and if a majority of the larger States concur, the 
fewer and smaller States must finally bend to them. This point 
being gained, many of the objections now urged in the leading 
States against renunciations of power will vanish. 4 tllly . To 
organize the federal powers in such a manner as not to blend 
together those which ought to be exercised by separate depart 
ments. The limited powers now vested in Congress are fre 
quently mismanaged from the want of such a distribution of 
them. What would be the case under an enlargement not only 
of the powers, but the number of the federal Representatives? 
These are some of the leading ideas which have occurred to me, 
but which may appear to others as improper as they appear to 
me necessary. 


NEW YORK, April 1st, 1787. 

HON D SIR, The general attention is now directed towards 
the approaching Convention. All the States have appointed 
deputies to it except Connecticut, Maryland, and Rhode Island. 
The first, it is not doubted, will appoint, and the second has 
already resolved on the expediency of the measure. Rhode 
Island alone has refused her concurrence. A majority of more 
than twenty in the Legislature of that State has refused to fol 
low the general example. Being conscious of the wickedness 
of the measures they are pursuing, they are afraid of everything 
that may become a controul on them. Notwithstanding this 
prospect of a very full and respectable meeting, no very san 
guine expectations can well be indulged. The probable diver 
sity of opinions and prejudices, and of supposed or real inter 

1787. LETTERS. 287 

ests among the States, renders the issue totally uncertain. The 
existing embarrassments and mortal diseases of the Confederacy 
form the only ground of hope that a spirit of concession on all 
sides may be produced by the general chaos, or at least parti 
tions of the Union, which offers itself as the alternative. 


NEW YORK, April 10th. 1787. 

DEAR SIR, I have been honored with your letter of the 31 
March, and find, with much pleasure, that your views of the re 
form which ought to be pursued by the Convention give a 
sanction to those I entertained. Temporising applications will 
dishonor the councils which propose them, and may foment the 
internal malignity of the disease, at the same time that they 
produce an ostensible palliation of it. Radical attempts, al 
though unsuccessful, will at least justify the authors of them. 

Having been lately led to revolve the subject which is to un 
dergo the discussion of the Convention, and formed some out 
lines of a new system, I take the liberty of submitting them 
without apology to your eye. 

Conceiving that an individual independence of the States is 
utterly irreconcileable with their aggregate sovereignty, and 
that a consolidation of the whole into one simple republic would 
be as inexpedient as it is unattainable, I have sought for middle 
ground, which may at once support a due supremacy of the na 
tional authority, and not exclude the local authorities wherever 
they can be subordinately useful. 

I would propose as the groundwork, that a change be made 
in the principle of representation. According to the present 
form of the Union, in which the intervention of the States is in 
all great cases necessary to effectuate the measures of Congress, 
an equality of suffrage does not destroy the inequality of im 
portance in the several members. No one will deny that Vir 
ginia and Massachusetts have more weight and influence, both 
within and without Congress, than Delaware or Rhode Island. 

288 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

Under a system which would operate in many essential points 
without the intervention of the State legislatures, the case would 
be materially altered. A vote in the national Councils from 
Delaware would then have the same effect and value as one 
from the largest State in the Union. I am ready to believe that 
such a change would not be attended with much difficulty. A 
majority of the States, and those of greatest influence, will re 
gard it as favorable to them. To the northern States it will 
be recommended by their present populousness; to the South 
ern, by their expected advantage in this respect. The lesser 
States must in every event yield to the predominant will. But 
the consideration which particularly urges a change in the rep 
resentation is, that it will obviate the principal objections of 
the larger States to the necessary concessions of power. 

I would propose next, that in addition to the present federal 
powers, the national Government should be armed with positive 
and compleat authority in all cases which require uniformity; 
such as the regulation of trade, including the right of taxing 
both exports and imports, the fixing the terms and forms of 
naturalization, c., &c. 

Over and above this positive power, a negative in all cases 
wJiatsoever on the Legislative acts of the States, as heretofore 
exercised by the Kingly prerogative, appears to me to be ab 
solutely necessary, and to be the least possible encroachment on 
the State jurisdictions. Without this defensive power, every 
positive power that can be given on paper will be evaded or 
defeated. The States will continue to invade the National ju 
risdiction, to violate treaties and the law of nations, and to 
harass each other with rival and spiteful measures dictated by 
mistaken views of interest. Another happy effect of this pre 
rogative would be its controul on the internal vicissitudes of 
State policy, and the aggressions of interested majorities on the 
rights of minorities and of individuals. The great desideratum, 
which has not yet been found for Republican Governments, 
seems to be some disinterested and dispassionate umpire in dis 
putes between different passions and interests in the State. The 
majority, who alone have the right of decision, have frequently 

1787. LETTERS. 289 

an interest, real or supposed, in abusing it. In Monarchies, the 
Sovereign is more neutral to the interests and views of differ 
ent parties; but, unfortunately, he too often forms interests of 
his own, repugnant to those of the whole. Might not the na 
tional prerogative here suggested be found sufficiently disin 
terested for the decision of local questions of policy, whilst it 
would itself be sufficiently restrained from the pursuit of inter 
est? adverse to those of the whole society 1 There has not been 
any moment since the peace at which the representatives of the 
Union would have given an assent to paper money, or any other 
measure of a kindred nature. 

The national supremacy ought also to be extended, as I con 
ceive, to the Judiciary departments. If those who are to ex 
pound and apply the laws are connected by their interests and 
their oaths with the particular States wholly, and not with the 
Union, the participation of the Union in the making of the 
laws may be possibly rendered unavailing. It seems at least 
necessary that the oaths of the Judges should include a fidelity 
to the general as well as local Constitution, and that an appeal 
should lie to some National tribunal in all cases to which for 
eigners or inhabitants of other States may be parties. The ad 
miralty jurisdiction seems to fall entirely within the purview 
of the National Government. 

The National supremacy in the Executive departments is lia 
ble to some difficulty, unless the officers administering them 
could be made appointable by the Supreme Government. The 
Militia ought certainly to be placed, in some form or other, under 
the authority which is entrusted with the general protection 
and defence. 

A Government composed of such extensive powers should be 
well organized and balanced. The legislative department 
might be divided into two branches; one of them chosen every 
years, by the people at large, or by the Legislatures; the 
other to consist of fewer members, to hold their places for a 
longer term, and to go out in such a rotation as always to leave 
in office a large majority of old members. Perhaps the nega 
tive on the laws might be most conveniently exercised by this 

VOL. i 19 

290 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

branch. As a further check, a Council of revision, including 
the great ministerial officers, might be super added. 

A National Executive must also be provided. I have scarcely 
ventured, as yet, to form my own opinion either of the manner 
in which it ought to be constituted, or of the authorities with 
which it ought to be cloathed. 

An article should be inserted expressly guarantying the tran 
quillity of the States against internal as well as external dangers. 

In like manner the right of coercion should be expressly de 
clared. With the resources of commerce in hand, the National 
administration might always find means of exerting it either by 
sea or land. But the difficulty and awkwardness of operating 
by force on the collective will of a State render it particularly 
desirable that the necessity of it might be precluded. Perhaps 
the negative on the laws might create such a mutuality of de 
pendence between the general and particular authorities as 
to answer this purpose. Or, perhaps, some defined objects of 
taxation might be submitted, along with commerce, to the gen 
eral authority. 

To give a new system its proper validity and energy, a rati 
fication must be obtained from the people, and not merely from 
the ordinary authority of the Legislatures. This will be the 
more essential, as inroads on the existing Constitutions of the 
States will be unavoidable. 

The inclosed address to the States on the subject of the Treaty 
of peace has been agreed to by Congress, and forwarded to the 
several Executives. We foresee the irritation which it will ex 
cite in many of our Countrymen, but could not withhold our 
approbation of the measure. Both the resolutions and the ad 
dress passed without a dissenting voice. 

Congress continue to be thin, and of course do little business 
of importance. The settlement of the public accounts, the dis 
position of the public lands, and arrangements with Spain, arc 
subjects which claim their particular attention. As a step 
towards the first, the Treasury board are charged with the task 
of reporting a plan by which the final decision on the claims of 
the States will be handed over from Congress to a select set of 

1787. LETTERS. 291 

men, bound by their oaths, and cloathed with the powers of 
Chancellors. As to the second article, Congress have it them 
selves under consideration. Between six and seven hundred 
thousand acres have been surveyed and are ready for sale. The 
mode of sale, however, will probably be a source of different 
opinions, as will the mode of disposing of the unsurveyed res 
idue. The Eastern gentlemen remain attached to the scheme 
of townships. Many others are equally strenuous for indiscrim 
inate locations. The States which have lands of their own for 
sale are suspected of not being hearty in bringing the federal 
lands to market. The business with Spain is becoming ex 
tremely delicate, and the information from the Western settle 
ments truly alarming. 

A motion was made some days ago for an adjournment of 
Congress for a short period, and an appointment of Philadelphia 
for their reassembling. The eccentricity of this place, as well 
with regard to East and West as to North and South, has, I 
find, been for a considerable time a thorn in the minds of many 
of the Southern members. Suspicion, too, has charged some 
important votes on the weight thrown by the present position 
of Congress into the Eastern scale, and predicts that the East 
ern members will never concur in any substantial provision or 
movement for a proper permanent seat for the National Gov 
ernment, whilst they remain so much gratified in its temporary 
residence. These seem to have been the operative motives with 
those on one side who were not locally interested in the re 
moval. On the other side, the motives are obvious. Those of 
real weight were drawn from the apparent caprice with which 
Congress might be reproached, and particularly from the pecu 
liarity of the existing moment. 

I own that I think so much regard due to these considera 
tions, that notwithstanding the principal ones on the other side, 
I should have assented with great reluctance to the motion, and 
would even have voted against it, if any probability had existed 
that, by waiting for a proper time, a proper measure might not 
be lost for a very long time. The plan which I should have 

292 WORKS OF "MADISON. 1787. 

judged most eligible would have been to fix on the removal 
whenever a vote could be obtained,. but so as that it should not 
take effect until the commencement of the ensuing federal year. 
And if an immediate removal had been resolved on, I had in 
tended to propose such a change in the plan. No final question 
was taken in the case. Some preliminary questions showed that 
six States were in favor of the motion. Rhode Island, the 
seventh, was at first on the same side, and Mr. Varnum, one of 
the delegates, continues so. His colleague was overcome by the 
solicitations of his Eastern brethren. As neither Maryland nor 
South Carolina was on the floor, it seems pretty evident that 
New York has a very precarious tenure of the advantages de 
rived from the abode of Congress. 

We understand that the discontents in Massachusetts, which 
lately produced an appeal to the sword, are now producing a 
trial of strength in the field of electioneering. The Governor 
will be displaced. The Senate is said to be already of a popu 
lar complexion, and it is expected that the other branch will be 
still more so. Paper money, it is surmised, will be the engine 
to be played off against creditors, both public and private. As 
the event of the elections, however, is not yet decided, this in 
formation must be too much blended with conjecture to be re 
garded as matter of certainty. 

I do not learn that the proposed act relating to Vermont has 
yet gone through all the stages of legislation here; nor can I 
say whether it will finally pass or not. In truth, it having not 
been a subject of conversation for some time, I am" unable to 
say what has been done or is likely to be done with it. 


Notes of Ancient and Modern Confederacies, preparatory to the 
federal Convention of 1787.* 

Lytian Confederacy. 

In this confederacy, the number of votes allotted to each 
member was proportioned to its pecuniary contributions. The 
Judges and town magistrates were elected by the general 
authority in like proportion. 

See Montesquieu, who prefers this mode. 

The name of a federal republic may be refused to Lycia, 
which Montesquieu cites as an example in which the importance 
of the members determined the proportion of their votes in the 
general councils. The Grison League is a juster example. 
Code de 1 Hum. Confederation. 

Lyciorum quoque vo/^#v celebrat Strabo : de qua pauca 
libet heic subjungere. Fuere eorum urbes XXIII, distincta? in 
classes tres pro modo virium. In primS, classe censebantur 
maxima? sex, in altera media?, numero nobis incerto, in tertia 
reli.quae omnes, quarum fortuna minima. Et singula? quidem 
urbes ha? domi res suas curabant, magistratus suos ordinemque 
civilem suum habebant: universa? tamen in unum co-euntes unam 
communem rempublicam constituebant, concilioque utebantur 
uno, velut senatu majore. In eo de bello, de pace, de foederibus, 
denique de rerum Lyciacarum summa deliberabant et statue- 
bant. Coibant vero in concilium hoc ex singulis urbibus missi 
cum potentate ferendi suffragii: utebanturque esi in re jure 
<equissimo. Nam quaelibet urbs prima? classis habebat jus suffra- 
giorum trium, secunda? duorum, tertia? unius. Eademque pro- 
portione tributa quoque conferebant, et munia alia obibant. 

* The reader will doubtless remark that this paper corresponds literally 
with one printed in the appendix to the 9th volume of Washington s writings, 
except that the names of the authorities here cited, as well as the passages 
quoted, are in that entirely omitted. Mr. Sparks states that it was found 
among the Mount Vernon papers in the handwriting of General Washington. 
There can be no doubt that it was originally drawn by Mr. Madison, as it exists 
among his autograph papers precisely as we have here given it, with all the 
marks of his authorities. 

294 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

Quemadmodiioi enim ratio ipsa dictat, et poscit aaquitas, ut 
plura qui possident, et caateris ditiores sunt, plura etiam in 
usus communes, et reipublicas subsidia conferant, sic quoque 
eadem a?quitatis regula postulat, ut in statuendo de re communi 
iidem illi plus aliis possint: praesertim cum eorundem magis 
inter sit rempublicam esse salvarn quam tenuiorum. Locum 
concilii hujus non liabebant fixum et certum, sed ex omnibus 
urbem deligebant, quas videbatur pro tcmporc commodissima. 
Concilio coacto primum designabant Lyciarcham principem 
totius reipublicae, dein magistratus alios creabant, partes rei 
publicae administraturos demum judicia publica constituebant. 
Atque hasc omnia faciebant servata 1 proportione eadem, ut nulla 
omnino urbs praeteriretur munerum ve aut honorum liorum non 
fieret particeps. Et hoc jus illibatum mansit Lyciis ad id usque 
tempus, quo Romani assumpto Asias imperio magna ex parte sui 
arbitrii id fecerunt. Ubbo Emmius de Lyciorum Republica in 
Asia. [Apud Grovonii Thes., iv, 597.] 
Amphictyonic Confederacy. 

Instituted by Ampliictyon, son of Deucalion, King of Athens, 
1522 years Ant. Christ. Code de 1 Humanite. 

Seated first at Thermopylas, then at Delphos, afterwards at 
these places alternately. It met half yearly, to wit, in the 
Spring and Fall, besides extraordinary occasions. Id. In the 
latter meetings, all such of the Greeks as happened to be at 
Delphos on a religious errand were admitted to deliberate, but 
not to vote. Encyclopedic. 

The number and names of the confederated cities differently 
reported. The union seems to have consisted originally of the 
Delphians and their neighbors only, and by degrees to have 
comprehended all Greece. 10, 11, 12, are the different numbers 
of original members mentioned by different authors. Code de 

Each city sent two deputies ; one to attend particularly to 
Religious matters, the other to civil and criminal matters 
affecting individuals ; both to decide on matters of a general 
nature. Id. Sometimes more than two were sent, but they 
had two votes only. Encyclopedic. 


The Amphictyons took an oath mutually to defend and pro 
tect the united cities, to inflict vengeance on those who should 
sacrilegiously despoil the temple of Delphos, to punish the 
violators of this oath, and never to divert the water-courses of 
any of the Amphictyonic cities, either in peace or in war. Code 
de 1 Hum. ^Eschines orat. vs. Ctesiphontem. 

The Amphictyonic Council was instituted by way of defence 
and terror against the Barbarians. Dict re de Treviux. 
Federal Authority. 

The Amphictyons had full power to propose and resolve 
whatever they judged useful to Greece. Encycopedie Pol. 

1. They judged in the last resort all differences between the 
Amphictyonic cities. Code de 1 Hum. 

2. Mulcted the aggressors. Id. 

3. Employed whole force of Greece against such as refused 
to execute its decrees. Id., and Plutarch, Clmon. 

4. Guarded the immense Riches of the Temple at Delphos, 
and decided controversies between the inhabitants and those 
who came to consult the Oracle. Encyclop. 

5. Superintended the Pythian games. Code de 1 Hum. 

6. Exercised right of admitting new members. (See decree 
admitting Philip, in Demosthenes on Crown.) 

7. Appointed General of the federal troops, with full powers 
to carry their decrees into execution. Ibid. 

8. Declared and carried on war. Code de PHurnan. 

Strabo says that the Council of the Amphictyons was dis 
solved in the time of Augustus ; but Pausanias, who lived in 
the time of Antoninus Pius, says it remained entire then, and 
that the number cxf Amphictyons was thirty. Potter s Gre. 
Ant., vol. 1, pa. 90. 

The institution declined on the admission of Philip, and in 
the time of the Roman Emperors the functions of the council 
were reduced to the administration and police of the Temple. 
This limited authority expired only with the Pagan Religion. 
Code de V Human. 

Vices of the Constitution. 

296 WORKS OF MADISON. 17>7. 

It happened but too often that the Deputies of the strongest 
cities awed and corrupted those of the weaker, and that Judg 
ment went in favor of the most powerful party. Id. See, also, 
Plutarch: Themistocles. 

Greece was the victim of Philip. If her confederation had 
been stricter, and been persevered in, she would never have 
yielded to Macedon, and might have proved a Barrier to the 
vast projects of Rome. Code de I Hum. 

Philip had two votes in the Council. Rawleigh Hist, world, 
lib. 4, c. l,Sect. 7. 

The execution of the Amphictyonic powers was very different 
from the Theory. Id. It did not restrain the parties from 
warring against each other. Athens and Sparta were members 
during their conflicts. Quer.: Whether Thucydides or Xeno- 
plion, in their Histories, ever allude to the Amphictyonic au 
thority, which ought to have kept the peace? See Gillies Hist. 
Greece, particularly vol. II, p. 345. 
Achcean Confederacy. 

In 124 Olymp d the Patrians and Dymasans joined first in this 
league. Polyb., lib. 2. c. 3. 

This League consisted at first of three small cities. Aratus 
added Sicyon, and drew in many other cities of Achaia and 
Peloponnesus. Of these he formed a Republic of a peculiar 
sort. Code de PHuman. 

It consisted of twelve cities, and was produced by the neces 
sity of such a defence against the Etolians. Encyclo. Pol. (E., 
and Polyb., lib. 2. 

The members enjoyed a perfect equality, each of them sending 
the number of deputies to the Senate. Id. 

The Senate assembled in the Spring and Fall, and was also 
convened on extraordinary occasions by two Praetors, charged 
with the administration during the recess, but who could exe 
cute nothing without the consent of the Inspectors. Id. 
Foederal Authority. 

1. The Senate, composed of the deputies, made war and 
peace. D Albon I, page 270. 

2. Appointed a Captain General annually. Co. d Hum. 


3. Transferred the power of deciding to ten citizens taken 
from the deputies, the rest retaining a right of consultation 
only. Id. 

4. Sent and received Ambassadors. D Albon. Ibid. 

5. Appointed a prime Minister. D Albon. Ibid. 

6. Contracted foreign alliances. Code de THum. 

7. Confederated cities in a manner forced to receive the same 
laws and customs, weights and measures, (Id., and Polyb., lib. 
2, cap. 3,) yet considered as having each their independent po 
lice and Magistrates. Encyclop. Pol. QEcon. 

8. Penes hoc concilium erat summum rerum arbitrium, ex cu- 
jus decreto bella suscipiebantur, et finiebantur, pax conveniebat, 
foedera feriebantur et solvebantur, leges fiebant ratce aut irritce. 
Hujus etiarn erat, Magistratus toti Societati communes eligere, 
legationes decernere, &c., &c. * * Regebant concilium pras- 
tor pra3cipue, si prsesens esset, et magistratus alii, quos Achaai 
drj uouofouz nuncupabant. Hi numero X erant, suffrages legit- 
imi concilii, quod verno tempore habebatur, electi ex universa 
societate prudentia prascipui, quorum concilio potissimum pras- 
tor. ex lege utebatur. Horum potestas et dignitas maxima erat 
post ipsum praetorem, quos iclciro Livius, Polybium sequens, 
summum Achaeorum magistratum appellat. * * Cum his 
igitur de negociis gravioribus in concilio agitandis praetor pras- 
consultabat, nee de iis. nisi in id pars major consentiret, licebat 
ad consilium referre. Ubbo Emmius. [Descr. Reip. Achseo- 
rum, Ap. Gron. Thes., iv, 573.] 

Ista vero imprimis memorabilis lex est, vinculum societatis 
Achaicae maxime stringens, et concordiam muniens, qua inter- 
dictum fuit, ne cui civitati Societatis hujus participi fas esset, 
seorsim ad exteros ultos mittere legates, non ad Romanes, non 
ad alios. Et hasc expressim inserta fuit pactis conventis Achaeo 
rum cum populo Romano. * * * * Omnium autem laucla- 
tissima lex apud eos viguit * * qua vetiturn, ne quis om- 
nino, sive privataa conditionis, seu magistratum gerens, ullam ob 
causam, quascunque etiam sit, dona a Rege aliquo caperet. Id. 
[Ap. Gron. Thes., iv, 575.] 

ogg WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

Vices of the Constitution. 

The defect of subjection in the members to the general au 
thority ruined the whole Body. The Romans seduced the mem 
bers from the League by representing that it violated their 
sovereignty. Code de 1 Hum. 

After the death of Alexander, this Union was dissolved by 
various dissentions, raised chiefly thro the acts of the Kings of 
Macedon. Every city was now engaged in a separate interest, 
and no longer acted in concert. Polyb., lib. 2, cap 3. After, 
in 124 Olymp d , they saw their error, and began to think of re 
turning to their former State. This was the time when Pyrrhus 
invaded Italy. Ibid. 

Helvetic Confederacy. 

Commenced in 1308 by the temporary and in 1315 by the 
perpetual Union of Uri, Schweitz, and Underwald, for the de 
fence of their liberties against the invasions of the House of 
Austria. In 1315 the Confederacy included 8 Cantons. In 
1513 the number of thirteen was compleated by the accession 
of Appenzel. Code de 1 Hum. 

The General Diet representing the United Cantons is com 
posed of two deputies from each. Some of their allies, as the 
Abbe S l . Gall, &c., are allowed by long usage to attend by their 
deputies. Id. 

All general Diets are held at such time and place as Zurich, 
which is first in rank and the depository of the common archives, 
shall name in a circular summons. But the occasion of annual 
conferences for the administration of their dependent bailagcs 
has fixed the same time, to wit, the feast of St. John, for the 
General Diet, and the city of Frauenfeld, in Turgovia. is now 
the place of meeting. Formerly it was the city of Baden. Id. 

The Diet is opened by a complimentary address of the first 
deputy of each cantdn by turns, called the Helvetic salutation. 
It consists in a congratulatory review of circumstances and 
events favorable to their common interest, and exhortations to 
Union and patriotism. 

The deputies of the first canton, Zurich, propose the matters 


to be discussed. Questions are decided by plurality of voices. 
In case of division, the Bailiff of Turgovia has the casting one. 
The session of the Diet continues about a month. Id. 

After the objects of universal concern are despatched, such 
of the deputies whose constituents have no share in the depend 
ent bailages withdraw, and the Diet then becomes a represent 
ation of the cantons to whom these bailages belong, and pro 
ceeds to the consideration of the business relating thereto. Id. 

Extraordinary Diets for incidental business, or giving au 
dience $) foreign ministers, may be called at any time by any 
one of the cantons, or by any foreign minister who will defray 
the expence of meeting. Seldom a year without an extraordi 
nary Diet. Stanyan s Switzerland. 

There is an annual Diet of 12 cantons, by one deputy from 
each, for the affairs of the ultra-montane bailages. Code de 

Particular cantons also have their diets for their particular 
affairs, the time and place for whose meeting are settled by 
their particular treaties. 

All public affairs are now treated, not in General Diet, but 
in the particular assemblies of protestant and catholic can 
tons. D Albon. 

Federal Authority. 

The title of Republican and Sovereign State improperly 
given to this Confederacy, which has no concentered authority, 
the Diets being only a Congress of Delegates from some or all 
of the cantons, and having no fixt objects that are national. 
Dictionnaire de Suisse. 

The 13 cantons do not make one Commonwealth like the 
United Provinces, but are so many independent Common 
wealths in strict alliance. There is not so much as any com 
mon instrument by which they are all reciprocally bound 
together. The 3 primitive cantons alone being each directly 
allied to the other twelve. The others, in many instances, are 
connected indirectly* only, as allies of allies. In this mode, 

* By the Convention of Stantz, any member attacked has a direct claim on the 
succour of the whole confederacy. Coxe, p. 343. 

300 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

any one canton may draw in all the others to make a common 
cause in its defence. Stanyan. 

The confederacy has no common Treasury, no common troops, 
no common coin, no common Judicatory, nor any other common 
mark of sovereignty. Id. 

The General Diet cannot terminate any interesting affair 
without special instructions and powers, and the deputies ac 
cordingly take most matters proposed ad referendum. Code 
del Hum.- 

The Cantons individually exercise the right of sencfing and 
receiving ambassadors, making treaties, coining money, pro 
scribing the money of one another, prohibiting the importation 
and exportation of merchandise, furnishing troops to foreign 
States, and doing everything else which does not wound the 
liberty of any other canton. Excepting a few cases specified 
in the alliances, and which directly concern the object of the 
league, no canton is subject to the Resolutions of the plural 
ity. Id. 

The only establishment truly national is that of a federal 
army, as regulated in 1668, and which is no more than an even 
tual plan of defence adopted among so many allied States. Id. 

1. The league consists in a perpetual defensive engagement 
against external attacks and internal troubles. It may be re 
garded as an axiom in the public law of the confederacy, that 
the federal engagements are precedent to all other political 
engagements of the cantons. Id. 

2. Another axiom is, that there are no particular or common 
possessions of the cantons for the defence of which the others 
are not bound as Guarantees, or auxiliaries of Guarantees. Id. 

3. All disputes arc to be submitted to neutral cantons, who 
may employ force, if necessary, in execution of their decrees. 
Id. Each party to choose 4 Judges, who may, in case of dis 
agreement, choose umpire, and these, under oath of impartial 
ity, to pronounce definitive sentence, which all cantons are to 
enforce. D Albon and Stanyan. 

4. No canton ought to form new alliances without the con 
sent of the others ; [this was stipulated in consequence of an 


improper alliance in 1442, by Zurich, with the House of Aus 
tria.] Id. 

5. It is an essential object of the league to preserve interior 
tranquillity by the reciprocal protection of the form of Govern 
ment established in each Canton, so that each is armed with the 
force of the whole corps for the suppression of rebellions and 
revolts, and the history of Switzerland affords frequent in 
stances of mutual succors for these purposes. Dict re de Suisse. 

6. The Cantons are bound not to give shelter to fugitives 
from Justice, in consequence of which each Canton can at this 
day banish malefactors from all the territories of the League. 

7. Though each Canton may prohibit the exportation and 
importation of merchandise, it must allow it to pass through 
from one neighboring Canton to another without any augmen 
tation of the tolls. Code de THum. 

S. In claiming succours against foreign powers, the S Elder 
Cantons have a more extensive right than the 5 junior ones. 
The former may demand them of one another without explain 
ing the motives of the quarrel. The latter cannot intermeddle 
but as mediators or auxiliaries; nor can they commence hostil 
ities without the sanction of the Confederates; and if cited by 
their adversaries, cannot refuse to accept the other Cantons for 
arbiters or Judges. Dict re de Suisse. 

9. In general, each Canton is to pay its own forces, without 
compensation from the whole, or the succoured party. But in 
case a siege is to be formed for the benefit of a particular Can 
ton, this is to defray the expence of it, and if for the common 
benefit, each is to pay its just proportion. D Albon. On no 
pretext is a Canton to be forced to march its troops out of the 
limits of Switzerland. Stanyan. 

10. Foreign Ministers from different Nations reside in differ 
ent Cantons. Such of them as have letters of credence for the 
whole Confederacy address them to Zurich, the chief Canton. 
The Ambassador of France, who has most to do with the Con 
federacy, is complimented at his quarters by deputies from the 
whole body. 

802 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

Vices of the Constitution. 

1. Disparity in size of Cantons. 

2. Different principles of Government in different Cantons. 

3. Intolerance in Religion. 

4. Weakness of the Union. The common bailages, which 
served as a cement, sometimes become occasions of quarrels. 
Dict re de Suisse. 

In a treaty in 1683 with Victor Amadceus, of Savoy, it is stip 
ulated that he shall interpose as mediator in disputes between 
the Cantons, and, if necessary, use force against the party re 
fusing to submit to the sentence. Diet de Suisse. A striking 
proof of the want of authority in the whole over its parts. 
Belgic Confederacy. 

Established in 1679, by the Treaty called the Union of 
Utrecht. Code de THumanite. 

The provinces came into this Union slowly. Guelderland, 
the smallest of them, made many difficulties. Even some of the 
Cities and Towns pretended to annex conditions to their ac 
ceding. Id. 

When the Union was originally established, a committee, com 
posed of deputies from each province, was appointed to regulate 
affairs, and to convoke the provinces according to article XIX 
of the Treaty. Out of this Committee grew the States Gen 
eral, (Id.,) who, strictly speaking, are only the Representatives 
of the States General, who amount to 800 members. Temple, 
p. 112. 

The number of Deputies to the States General from each prov 
ince not limited, but have only a single voice. They amount 
commonly, altogether, to 40 or 50. They hold their seats, some 
for life, some for 6, 3, and 1 years, and those of Groningen and 
Overyssel during pleasure. They are paid, but very moder 
ately, by their respective constituents, and are amenable to their 
Tribunals only. Code de 1 Hum. No military man is depu- 
table to the States General. Id. 

Ambassadors of Republic have session and deliberation, but 
no suffrage in States Gen 1 . Id. The grand pensioner of Hol 
land, as ordinary deputy from Holland, attends always in the 


States General, and makes the propositions of that province to 
States General. Id. 

They sit constantly at the Hague since 1593, and every day 
in +he week except Saturday and Sunday. The States of Hol 
land, in granting this residence, reserve, by way of protestation, 
the rights, the honors, and prerogatives, belonging to them as 
sovereigns of the province, yielding the States General only a 
rank in certain public ceremonies. Id. 

The eldest deputy from each province presides for a week by 
turns. The President receives letters, c., from the Ministers 
of the Republic at foreign Courts, and of foreign Ministers re 
siding at the Hague, as well as of all petitions presented to the 
Assembly; all which he causes to be read by the Secretary. Id. 

The Secretary, besides correcting and recording the Resolu 
tions, prepares and despatches instructions to Ministers abroad, 
and letters to foreign powers. He assists, also, at conferences 
held with foreign Ministers, and there gives his voice. He has a 
deputy when there is not a second Secretary. The agent of the 
States General is charged with the Archives, and is also em 
ployed on occasions of receiving foreign Ministers or sending 
Messages to them. Id. 
Federal Authority. 

The avowed objects of the Treaty of Union: 1. To fortify 
the Union. 2. To repel the common enemy. Id. 

The Union is to be perpetual in the same manner as if the 
Confederates formed one province only, without prejudice, how 
ever, to the privileges and rights of each province and City. 

Differences between provinces and between cities are to be 
settled by the ordinary Judges, by arbitration, by amicable 
agreement, without the interference of other provinces, other 
wise than by way of accommodation. The Stadtholder is to 
decide such differences in the last resort. Id. 

No change to be made in the articles of Union without unan 
imous consent of the parties, and everything done contrary to 
them to be null and void. Id. 
States General. 

304 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

1. Execute, without consulting their constituents, treaties and 
alliances already formed. Id. 

2. Take oaths from Generals and Governors, and appoint 
Field Deputies. 

3. The collection of duties on imports and exports, and the 
expedition of safe conducts, are in their name and by their offi 
cers. Id. 

4. They superintend and examine accounts of the E. India 
Company. Id. 

5. Inspect the Mint, appoint les Maitres de la Monnoye, fix 
la faille and la valeur of the coin, having always regard to the 
regular rights of the provinces within their own Territories. 

6. Appoint a Treasurer General and Receiver General of the 
Quotas furnished by the provinces. Id. 

7. Elect, out of a double nomination, the fiscal and other 
officers within the departments of the admiralties, except that 
the High officers of the fleet are appointed by the Admiral 
General, to whom the maritime provinces have ceded this 
right. Id. The Navy, supported by duties on foreign trade, 
appropriated thereto by the maritime provinces, for the benefit 
of the whole Republic. Id. 

8. They govern as sovereigns the dependent territories, ac 
cording to the several capitulations. Id. 

9. They form Committees of their own body, of a member 
from each deputation, for foreign affairs, finances, marine, and 
other matters. At all these conferences the Grand Pensioner 
of Holland and the secretary of the States General attend, and 
have a deciding voice. Id. 

10. Appoint and receive Ambassadors, negociate with foreign 
powers, deliberate on war, peace, alliances, the raising forces, 
care of fortifications, military affairs to a certain degree, the 
equipment of fleets, building of ships, directions concerning 
money. Id. But they can neither make peace, nor war, nor 
truces, nor treaties, nor raise troops, nor impose taxes, nor do 
other acts requiring unanimity, without consulting and obtain 
ing the sanction of the Provinces. Id. Coining money also 


requires unanimity and express sanction of provinces. Temple. 
Repealing an old law on same footing. Burrish. Batav. illus- 
trata. In points not enumerated in this article, plurality of 
voices decides. Code de 1 Hum. 

11. Composition and publication of edicts and proclamations 
relative both to the objects expressed in the articles of union and 
to the measures taken for the common good, are in the name 
of the States ; and altho they are addressed to the States of the 
Provinces, who announce them with their sanction, still it is in 
the name of the States General that obedience is required of all 
the inhabitants of the Provinces. Code de 1 Hum. 

The Provinces have reserved to themselves 

1. Their sovereignty within their own limits in general. 
Code de 1 Hum. 

2. The right of coining money, as essential to sovereignty; 
but agreed, at the same time, that the money which should be 
current throughout the Republic should have the same intrinsic 
value. To give effect to which regulation a mint is established 
at the Hague, under a chamber which has the inspection of all 
money struck, either in name of States General or particular 
provinces, as also of foreign coin. Id. Coining money not in 
provinces or cities, but in the generality of union, by common 
agreement. Temple. 

3. Every province raises what money and by what means it 
pleases, and sends its quota to Receiver General. Temple. 

The quotas were not settled without great difficulty. Id. 

4. The naming to Governments of Towns within themselves; 
keeping keys, and giving word to Magistrates; a power over 
troops in all things not military; conferring Col 8 , commissions 
and inferior posts in such Regiments as are paid by the prov 
inces; respectively taking oath of fidelity; concerning a revo 
cation of all which the States General are not permitted to 
deliberate. Id. 

The provinces are restricted 

1. From entering into any foreign treaties without consent 
of the rest. Code de THum. 
VOL. i. 20 

306 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

2. From establishing imposts prejudicial to others without 
general consent. Id. 

3. From charging their neighbors with higher duties than 
their own subjects. Id. 

Council of State composed of deputies from the provinces, 
in different proportions. 3 of them are for life; the rest gener 
ally for 3 years ; they vote per capita. Temple. 

They arc subordinate to the States General, who frequently, 
however, consult with them. In matters of war which require 
secrecy they act of themselves. Military and fiscal matters 
are the objects of their administration. 

They execute the Resolutions of the States General, propose 
requisitions of men and money, and superintend the fortifica 
tions, <fec., and the affairs, revenues, and Governments, of the 
conquered possessions. Temple. 

Chamber of Accounts was erected for the ease of the Council 
of State. It is subordinate to the States General; is composed 
of two deputies from each province, who are changed trien- 
nially. They examine and state all accounts of the several 
Receivers; controul and register orders of Council of State 
disposing of the finances. Id. 

College of Admiralty, established by the States General, 
1597, is subdivided into five, of which three are in Holland, 
one in Zealand, one in Friezland, each composed of seven depu 
ties, four appointed by the province where the admiralty 
resides, and three by the other provinces. The vice admiral 
presides in all of them when he is present. Temple. 

They take final cognizance of all crimes and prizes at sea; 

of all frauds in customs; provide 

quota of fleets resolved on by States General; appoint Captains 
and superior officers of each squadron; take final cognizance, 
also, of civil matters within 600 florins, an appeal lying to 
States General for matters beyond that sum. Code de 1 Hum. 
and Temple. 

The authority of States General in Admiralty Department 
is much limited by the influence and privileges of maritime prov- 


inces, and the jurisdiction herein is full of confusion and contra 
diction. Code de 1 Humanite. 

Stadtholder, who is now hereditary, in his political capacity 
is authorized 

1. To settle differences between provinces, provisionally, till 
other methods can be agreed on, which having never been, this 
prerogative may be deemed a permanent one. Code de FHum. 

2. Assists at deliberations of States General and their par 
ticular conferences; recommends and influences appointment of 
Ambassadors. Id. 

3. Has seat and suffrage in Council of State. Id. 

4. Presiding in the provincial Courts of Justice, where his 
name is prefixed to all public acts. Id. 

5. Supreme Creator of most of the Universities. Id. 

6. As Stadtholder of the provinces, has considerable rights 
partaking of the sovereignty; as appointing town magistrates, 
on presentation made to him of a certain number. Executing 
provincial decrees, <fcc. Id. and Mably; Etud. de 1 hist. 

7. Gives audiences to Ambassadors, and may have agents 
with their Sovereigns for his private affairs. Mab. Ibid. 

8. Exercises power of pardon. Temple. 

In his Military capacity as Captain General 

1. Commands forces; directs marches; provides for garri 
sons; and, in general, regulates military affairs. Code de 

2. Disposes of all appointments, from Ensigns to Col 8 . The 
Council of State having surrendered to him the appointments 
within their disposal, (Id.,) and the States General appoint the 
higher grades on his recommendation. Id. 

3. Disposes of the Governments, &c., of the fortified towns, 
tho 7 the commissions issue from the States General. Id. 

In his Marine capacity as Admiral General 

1. Superintends and directs everything relative to naval 
forces and other affairs within Admiralty. Id. 

2. Presides in the admiralties in person or by proxy. Id. 

3. Appoints Lieu fc . Admirals and officers under them. Id. 

4. Establishes Councils of war, whose sentences are in the 

308 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

name of the States General and his Highness, and are not exe 
cuted till he approves. Id. 

The Stadtholder has a general and secret influence on the 
great machine which cannot be defined. Id. 

His revenue from appointments amounts to 300,000 florins, 
to which is to be added his extensive patrimonies. Id. 

The standing army of the Republic, 40,000 men. 
Vices of the Constitution. 

The Union of Utrecht imports an authority in the States Gen 
eral seemingly sufficient to secure harmony; but the jealousy in 
each province of its sovereignty renders the practice very dif 
ferent from the Theory. Code de THum. 

It is clear that the delay occasioned by recurring to seven 
independent provinces, including about 52 voting Cities, &c., is 
a vice in the Belgic Republic which exposes it to the most fatal 
inconveniences. Accordingly, the fathers of their country have 
endeavored to remedy it, in the extraordinary assemblies of the 
States General in 1584, in 1651, 1716, 1717, but, unhappily, 
without effect. This vice is, notwithstanding, deplorable. Id. 
Among other evils, it gives foreign Ministers the means of ar 
resting the most important deliberations by gaining a single 
Province or City. This was done by France in 1726, when the 
Treaty of Hanover was delayed a whole year. In 1688 the 
States concluded a Treaty of themselves, but at the risk of their 
heads. Id. It is the practice, also, in matters of contribution 
or subsidy, to pass over this article of the Union; for where 
delay would be dangerous, the consenting provinces furnish 
their quotas without waiting for the others; but by such means 
the Union is weakened, and, if often repeated, must be dis 
solved. Id. 

Foreign Ministers elude matters taken ad referendum, by tam 
pering with the Provinces and Cities. Temple, p. 116. 

Treaty of Union obliges each Province to levy certain con 
tributions. But this article never could and probably never 
will be executed, because the inland provinces, who have little 
commerce, cannot pay an equal Quota. Burrish. Bat. illustrat. 


Deputations from agreeing to disagreeing Provinces fre 
quent. Tern. 

It is certain that so many independent corps and interests 
could not be kept together without such a center of union as 
the Stadtholdership, as has been allowed and repeated in so 
many solemn acts. Code de 1 Hum. 

In the intermission of the Stadtholdership, Holland, by her 
riches and authority, which drew the others into a sort of de 
pendence, supplied the place. Temple. 

With such a Government the Union never could have sub 
sisted, if, in effect, the provinces had not within themselves a 
spring capable of quickening their tardiness and impelling them 
to the same way of thinking. This spring is the Stadtholder. 
His prerogatives are immense 1, &c., <fec. A strange effect of 
human contradictions. Men too jealous to confide their liberty 
to their representatives, who are their equals, abandoned it to 
a Prince, who might the more easily abuse it, as the affairs of 
the Republic were important, and had not then fixed them 
selves. Mably Etude D Hist., 2056. 

Grotius has said that the hatred of his countrymen against 
the House of Austria kept them from being destroyed by the 
vices of their Constitution. Ibid. 

The difficulty of procuring unanimity has produced a breach 
of fundamentals in several instances. Treaty of Westphalia was 
concluded without consent of Zealand, &c. D Albon and Tem 
ple. These tend to alter the constitution. D Albon. 

It appears by several articles of the Union that the confede 
rates had formed the design of establishing a General tax, [Im- 
pot,] to be administered by the States Gen 1 . But this design, so 
proper for bracing this happy Union, has not been executed. 
Code de THum. 

Germanic Confederacy took its present form in the year 

_.__Code de 1 Hum. 

The Diet is to be convoked by the Emperor, or, on his failure, 
by the Archbishop of Mentz, with consent of Electors, once in 
ten years at least from the last adjournment, and six months 

310 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

before the time of meeting. Ratisbon is the seat of the Diet 
since 1663. 

The members amount to 285, and compose three colleges, to 
wit: that of the Electors, of Princes, of Imperial Cities. The 
voices amount to 159, of which 153 are individual and 6 col 
lective. The latter are particular to the College of Princes, and 
are formed out of 39 prelates, <fec., and 93 Counts, <fec. The 
individual voices are common to the three Colleges, and are 
given by 9 Electors; 94 Princes, 33 of the ecclesiastical and 61 
of the secular Bench; and 50 Imperial Cities, 13 of the Rhenish, 
and 37 of the Suabian Bench. The King of Prussia has nine 
voices, in as many different capacities. Id. 

The three Colleges assemble in the same House, but in differ 
ent apartments. Id. 

The Emperor, as head of the Germanic body, is President of 
the Diet. He and others are represented by proxies at pres 
ent. Id. 

The deliberations are grounded on propositions from Emper 
or, and commence in the College of Electors, from whence they 
pass to that of the Princes, and thence to that of the Imperial 
Cities. They are not resolutions till they have been passed in 
each. When the Electors and Princes cannot agree, they con 
fer; but do not confer with the Imperial Cities. Plurality of 
voices decide in each College, except in matters of Religion and 
a few reserved cases, in which, according to the Treaty of West 
phalia and the Imperial Capitulations, the Empire is divided 
into the Catholic and Evangelic Corps. Id. 

After the Resolutions have passed the three Colleges they 
are presented to the Representative of the Emperor, without 
whose ratification they are null. Id. They are called placita 
after passing the three Colleges; conclusa, after ratification by 
Emperor. Id. 

The collection of acts of one Diet is called the Recess, which 
cannot be made up and have the force of law till the close of 
the Diet. The subsisting diet has not been closed for more than 
a hundred years; of course it has furnished no effective Resolu- 


tion. though a great number of interesting ones have passed. 
This delay proceeds from the Imperial Court, who refuse to 
grant a recess, notwithstanding the frequent and pressing ap 
plications made for one. Id. 
Federal Authority. 

The powers as well as the organization of the Diet have 
varied at different times. Antiently it elected as a corps the 
Emperors, and judged of their conduct. The Golden Bull gives 
this right to the Electors alone. Antiently it regulated tolls; 
at present the Electors alone do this. Id. 

The Treaty of Westphalia and the capitulations of the Em 
perors, from Charles Y downwards, define the present powers 
of the Diet. These concern 1. Legislation of the Empire. 2. 
War and peace, and alliances. 3. Raising troops. 4. Contri 
butions. 5. Construction of fortresses. 6. Money. 7. Ban of 
the Empire. 8. Admission of new princes. 9. The Supreme 
tribunals. 10. Disposition of grand fiefs and grand charges. 
In all these points the Emperor and Diet must concur. Id. 

The Ban of the Empire is a sort of proscription, by which the 
disturbers of the public peace are punished. The offender s life 
and goods are at the mercy of every one; formerly, the Empe 
rors themselves pronounced the ban against those who offended 
them. It has been since regulated that no one shall be exposed 
to the ban without the examination and consent of the Diet. 

By the Ban the party is outlawed, degraded from all his fed 
eral rights, his subjects absolved from their allegiance, and his 
possessions forfeited. Code de PHum. 

The Ban is incurred when the Emperor or one of the supreme 
Tribunals address an order to any one, on pain, in case of dis 
obedience, of being proscribed ipso facto. Id. 

The Circles, formerly, were in number six only. There are 
now ten. They were instituted for the more effectual preserva 
tion of the public peace, and the execution of decrees of Diet 
and supreme Tribunals against contumacious members, for which 
purposes they have their particular diets, with the chief Prince 
of the circle at their head, have particular officers for command- 


ing the forces of the Circle, levy contributions, see that justice 
is duly administered, that the coin is not debased, that the cus 
toms are not unduly raised. Savage, vol. 2, p. 35. 

If a circle fail to send its due succours, it is to pay damages 
suffered therefrom to its neighbours. If a member of the circle 
refuse, the Col. of the circle is to admonish; and if this be in 
sufficient, the delinquent party is to be compelled under a sen 
tence from the Imperial Chamber. Id. 

Imperial Chamber, established in 1495 by the Diet, as a means 
of public peace, by deciding controversies between members of 
the Empire. Code dc 1 Hum. 

This is the first Tribunal of the Empire. It has an appellate 
jurisdiction in all Civil and fiscal causes, or where the public 
peace may be concerned. It has a concurrent jurisdiction with 
the Aulic Council, and causes cannot be removed from one to 
the other. Id. 

The Judges of this Tribunal are appointed partly by the Em 
peror, partly by Electors, partly by circles; are supported by 
all the States of the Empire, excepting the Emperor. They are 
badly paid, though great salaries are annexed to their offices. 

In every action, real or personal, The Diet, Imperial Cham 
ber, and Aulic Council, are so many supreme Courts, to which 
none of the States can demur. The jurisprudence by which 
they govern themselves are, according to the subject-matter: 
1. The provincial laws of Germany. 2. The Scripture. 3. 
The law of nature. 4. Law of Nations. 5. The Roman law. 
6. The canon law. 7. The foedal law of the Lombards. Id. 

Members of Diet, as such, are subject in all public affairs to be 
judged by Emperor and Diet; as individuals in private capacity, 
are subject to Aulic Council and Imperial Chamber. Id. 

The members have reserved to themselves the right 1. To 
enter into war and peace with foreign powers. 2. To enter 
into alliances with foreign powers and with one another, not 
prejudicial to their engagements to the Empire. Code de 
1 Hum. 3. To make laws, levy taxes, raise troops, to deter 
mine on life and death. Savage. 4. Coin money. Id. 5. 


Exert territorial sovereignty within their limits in their own 
name. Code de 1 Hum. 6. To grant pardons. Savage, p. 44. 
7. To furnish their quotas of troops, equipped, mounted, and 
armed, and to provide for sustenance of them, as if they served 
at home. Code de 1 Hum. 

Adic Council, [established by Diet in 1512. Encyclop.,] 
composed of members appointed by the Emperor. Code de 
1 Hum. 

Its cognizance is restrained to matters above 2,000 crowns; 
is concurrent with the jurisdiction of the Imperial Chamber in 
controversies between the States; also, in those of subjects of 
the Empire by way of appeal from subaltern Tribunals of the 
Empire, and from sovereign Tribunals of Princes. Id. Arms 
are to be used for carrying its decrees into execution, as was 
done in 1718 by the troops of the Circle of upper Rhine, in a 
controversy between Landgrave of Hesse Cassel and Prince of 
Hesse of Rhinntz. Id. 

Members of Empire restricted 

1. From entering into Confederacies prejudicial to the Em 

2. From laying tolls or customs upon bridges, rivers, or pass 
ages, to which strangers are subject, without consent of the 
Emperor in full diet. 

3. Cannot give any other value to money, nor make any 
other kind of money, than what is allowed by the Empire. 
Savage, vol. 2, p. 45. 

4. (By edict of 1548, particularly,) from taking arms one 
against another; from doing themselves justice; from affording 
retreat, much more assistance, to infractors of the public peace; 
the ban of the Empire being denounced against the transgress 
ors of these prohibitions, besides a fine of 2,000 marks of Gold 
and loss of regalities. Code d Hum. 

Emperor has the prerogative 1. Of exclusively making 
propositions to the Diet. 2. Presiding in all Assemblies and 
Tribunals o . the Empire when he chooses. 3. Of giving suf 
frage in all affairs treated in the Diet. 4. Of negativing their 
resolutions. 5. Of issuing them in his own name. 6. Of watch- 

314 WORKS OF MADISON. 17557. 

ing over the safety of the Empire. 7. Of naming Ambassadors 
to negociate within the Empire, as well as at foreign Courts, 
affairs concerning the Germanic Corps. 8. Of re-establishing 
in good fame persons dishonored by Council of war and civil 
Tribunals. Code d Hum. 9. Of giving investiture of the prin 
cipal immediate fiefs of the Empire; which is not, indeed, of much 
consequence. 10. Of conferring vacant electorates. 11. Of 
preventing subjects from being withdrawn from the jurisdiction 
of their proper judge. 12. Of conferring charges of the Em 
pire. 13. Of conferring dignities and titles, as of Kings, &c. 
14. Of instituting military orders. 15. Of granting the der 
nier resort. 16. Of judging differences and controversies 
touching tolls. 17. Of deciding contests between Catholic and 
Protestant States, touching precedence, &c. Id. 18. Of found 
ing Universities within the lands of the States, so far as to make 
the person endowed with Academic honors therein be regarded 
as such throughout Germany. 19. Of granting all sorts of 
privileges not injurious to the States of the Empire. 20. Of 
establishing great fairs. 21. Of receiving the droit des Postes 
generales. 22. Of striking money, but without augmenting or 
diminishing its value. 23. Of permitting strangers to enlist 
soldiers, conformably to Recess of 1654. Id. 24. Of receiv 
ing and applying Revenues of Empire. Savage, p. . He 
cannot make war or peace, nor laws, nor levy taxes, nor alter 
the denomination of money, nor weights or measures. Savage, 
v. 2, p. 35. The Emperor, as such, does not properly possess 
any territory within the Empire, nor derive any revenue for 
his support. Code de 1 Hum. 
Vices of the Constitution. 

1. The Quotas are complained of, and supplied very irregu 
larly and defectively. Code de 1 Hum. Provision is made by 
decree of diet for enforcing them, but it is a delicate matter to 
execute it against the powerful members. Id. 

2. The establishment of the Imperial Chamber has not been 
found an efficacious remedy against civil wars. It has com 
mitted faults. The Ressortissans have not always been docile. 

17R7 LETTERS. 315 

3. Altho the establishment of Imperial Chambers, c., give 
a more regular form to the police of the fiefs, it is not to be 
supposed they are capable of giving a certain force to the laws 
and maintaining the peace of the Empire, if the House of Aus 
tria had not acquired power enough to maintain itself on the 
Imperial Throne, to make itself respected, and to give orders 
which it might be imprudent to despise, as the laws were there 
fore despised. Mably Etude de hist., p. 130. 

[Jealousy of the Imperial authority seems to have been a 
great cement of the Confederacy.] 


NEW YORK, April 19th, 1787. 

DEAR SIR, No definitive steps are yet taken for the trans 
portation of your furniture. I fear we shall be obliged to make 
use of a conveyance to Norfolk as soon as one shall offer. 1 
have examined the workmanship of the man in Chappel street. 
The face of it is certainly superior to that of your workman. 
Whether it may prove much so for substantial purposes, I do not 
undertake to say. Should Mrs. Monroe not be pleased with the 
articles, I would recommend that you dispose of them, which 
may be done, probably, without loss, and send us a commission 
to replace them. I think we could please you both, and on terms 
not dearer than that of your purchase. We learn nothing yet 
of a remittance from S. Carolina. 

The business of the Mississippi will, I think, come to a point 
in a few days. You shall know the result in due time. 

A motion was lately made to remove shortly to Philadelphia; 
six States would have been for it. Rhode Island was so at first, 
and would have been a seventh. One of the delegation was 
overpowered by exertions of his. Eastern brethren. I need not 
rehearse to you the considerations which operated on both sides. 
Your conjectures will not mistake them. My own opinion is, 
that there are strong objections against the moment, [move 
ment?] objections which nothing would supersede but the diffi- 

316 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

culty of bringing the sense of the Union to an efficient vote 
in Congress, and the danger of losing altogether a proper 
measure by waiting for a proper time. A middle way would 
have been my choice; that is, to fix Philadelphia for the meet 
ing of the ensuing Congress, and to remain here in the mean 
time. This would have given time for all preliminary arrange 
ments, would have steered clear of the Convention, and, by se 
lecting a natural period for the event, and transferring the 
operation of it to our successors in office, all insinuations of 
suddenness, and of personal views, would have been repelled. 

I hear with great pleasure that you are to aid the delibera 
tions of the next Assembly, and with much concern that paper 
money will probably be among the bad measures which you will 
have to battle. Wishing you success in this and all your other 
labours for the public and for yourself, I remain, with best re 
spects to Mrs. Monroe, 

Yours affectionately. 


NEW YORK, April 22nd, 1787. 

MY DEAR SIK, The period since my last has afforded such 
scanty materials for a letter, that I have postponed it till I have 
now to thank you for yours of the 7th instant, which came to 
hand two days ago. I always feel pleasure in hearing from you, 
but particularly when my concern for your doubtful health is re 
lieved by such an evidence in its favor. At the same time, I 
must repeat my wishes to forego this pleasure whenever it may 
interfere with the attention which you owe to your ease, your 
business, or your other friends. 

I do not learn that any symptoms yet appear of a return of 
the insurgent spirit in Massachusetts. On the contrary, it is 
said that the malcontents are trying their strength in a more 
regular form. This is the crisis of their elections; and if they 
can muster sufficient numbers, their wicked measures are to be 

1787. LETTERS. 317 

sheltered under the form? of the Constitution. How far their 
influence may predominate in the current appointments is un 
certain; but it is pretty certain that a great change in the ru 
lers of that State is taking place, and that a paper emission, if 
nothing worse, is strongly apprehended. Governor Bowdoin 
is already displaced jn favor of Mr. Hancock, whose acknowl 
edged merits are not a little tainted by an obsequiousness to 
popular follies. A great change has also taken place in the 
Senate, and a still greater is prognosticated in the other branch 
of the Legislature. 

We are flattered with the prospect of a pretty full and very 
respectable meeting in next month. All the States have made 
appointments, except Connecticut, Maryland, and Rhode Island. 
The last has refused. Maryland will certainly concur. The 
temper of Connecticut is equivocal. The turn of her elections, 
which are now going on, is said to be rather unpropitious. The 
absence of one or two States, however, will not materially affect 
the deliberations of the Convention. Disagreement in opinion 
among the present is much more likely to embarrass us. The 
nearer the crisis approaches, the more I tremble for the issue. 
The necessity of gaining the concurrence of the Convention in 
some system that will answer the purpose, the subsequent ap 
probation of Congress, and the final sanction of the States, pre 
sent a series of chances which would inspire despair in any 
case where the alternative was less formidable. The difficulty, 
too, is not a little increased by the necessity which will be pro 
duced, by encroachments on the State Constitutions, of obtain 
ing not merely the assent of the Legislatures, but the ratifica 
tion of the people themselves. Indeed, if such encroachments 
could be avoided, a higher sanction than the Legislative au 
thority would be necessary to render the laws of the Confed 
eracy paramount to the acts of its members. 

I inclose a late act of Congress, which will shew you the light 
in which they view and inculcate a compliance with the Treaty 
of peace. We were not unaware of the bitterness of the pill to 
many of our countrymen, but national considerations overruled 
that objection. An investigation of the subject had proved that 

318 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

the violations on our part were not only most numerous and 
important, but were of earliest date. And the assurances on 
the other part are explicit, that a reparation of our wrongful 
measures shall be followed by an immediate and faithful execu 
tion of the Treaty by Great Britain. 

Congress are at present deliberating on the most proper plan 
for disposing of the Western lands, and providing a criminal 
and civil administration for the Western settlements beyond 
the Ohio. The latter subject involves great difficulties. On 
the former, also, opinions are various. Between 6 and 700,000 
acres have been surveyed in Townships, and are to be sold as 
soon as they shall be duly advertised. The sale was at first to 
have been distributed throughout the States. This plan is now 
exchanged for the opposite extreme. The sale is to be made 
where Congress sit. Unquestionably, reference ought to have 
been had, in fixing on the place, either to the center of the 
Union or to the proximity of the premises. In providing for 
the unsurveyed lands, the difficulty arises from the Eastern at 
tachment to townships, and the Southern, to indiscriminate 
locations. A copper coinage was agreed on yesterday, to the 
amount of upwards of two hundred thousand dollars; 15 per 
cent, is to be drawn into the federal Treasury from this opera 

Our affair with Spain is on a very delicate footing. It is not 
easy to say what precise steps would be most proper to be taken 
on our side, and extremely difficult to say what will be actually 
taken. Many circumstances threaten an Indian war, but the 
certainty of it is not established. A British officer was lately 
here from Canada, as has been propagated, but not on a mission 
to Congress. His business was unknown, if he had any that 
was important. 

I am extremely concerned, though not much surprised, at the 
danger of a paper emission in Virginia. If Mr. Henry should 
erect the standard, he will certainly be joined by sufficient force 
to accomplish it. Remorse and shame are but too feeble re 
straints on interested individuals against unjust measures, and 
are rarely felt at all by interested multitudes. 



April 23d, 1787. 

DEAR SIR, The vigorous measures finally pursued by the 
Government of Massachusetts against the insurgents had the 
intended effect of dispersing them. By some it was feared that 
they would re-embody on the return of favorable weather. As 
yet, no symptom of such a design has appeared. It would seem 
that they mean to try their strength in another way ; that is, 
by endeavoring to give the elections such a turn as may pro 
mote their views under the auspices of Constitutional forms. 
How far they may succeed is not yet reducible to certainty. 
That a great change will be effected in the component members 
of the Government is certain, but the degree of influence im- 
putable to the malcontents cannot be well known till some 
specimen shall be given of the temper of the new rulers. A 
great proportion of the Senate is changed, and a greater pro 
portion of the other branch it is expected will be changed. A 
paper emission, at least, is apprehended from this revolution in 
their councils. 

Considerable changes are taking place, I hear, in the County 
elections in Virginia, and a strong itch beginning to return for 
paper money. Mr. Henry is said to have the measure in con 
templation, and to be laying his train for it already. He will, 
however, be powerfully opposed by Col. Mason, if he should be 
elected and be able to serve ; by Monroe, Marshall, and Lud- 
well Lee, (son of R. H. Lee,) who are already elected ; and 
sundry others of inferior rank. Mr. Harrison, the late Gov 
ernor, has so far regained the favor of Charles City as to be re 
instated a representative. The part which he will take is un 
certain. From his repeated declarations he ought to be adverse 
to a paper emission. 

320 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

Notes on the Confederacy. April, 1787. 

Vices of the Political Ohsprvatirm* Vv T AT 

system of the U. States. ons W J M< 

1. Failure of the States l - This evil has been so full > 7 experienced 
to comply with the Con- both during the war and since the peace, 

ions results so naturally from the number and 
independent authority of the States, and has been so uniformly 
exemplified in every similar Confederacy, that it may be con 
sidered as not less radically and permanently inherent in, than 
it is fatal to the object of, the present system. 

2. Encroachments by 2 Examples of this arc numerous, and 
the States on the federal repetitions may be foreseen in almost every 

case where any favorite object of a State 
shall present a temptation. Among these examples are the 
wars and treaties of Georgia with the Indians, the unlicensed 
compacts between Virginia and Maryland, and between Penn 
sylvania and New Jersey, the troops raised and to be kept up 
by Massachusetts. 

3. Violations of the 3 From the number of Legislatures, tlje 
law of nations and of sphere of life from which most of their 

members are taken, and the circumstances 
under which their legislative business is carried on, irregulari 
ties of this kind must frequently happen. Accordingly, not a 
year has passed without instances of them in some one or other 
of the States. The Treaty of Peace, the treaty with France, 
the treaty with Holland, have each been violated. [See the 
complaints to Congress on these subjects.] The causes of these 
irregularities must necessarily produce frequent violations of 
the law of nations in other respects. 

As yet, foreign powers have not been rigorous in animad 
verting on us. This moderation, however, cannot be mistaken 
for a permanent partiality to our faults, or a permanent security 
against those disputes with other nations, which, being among 
the greatest of public calamities, it ought to be least in the 
power of any part of the community to bring on the whole. 


-i. Trespasses of the 4 These are alarming symptoms, and 
States on the rights of may be daily apprehended, as we are ad 
monished by daily experience. See the 
law of Virginia restricting foreign vessels to certain ports; of 
Maryland in favor of vessels belonging to her own citizens of 
N. York in favor of the same. 

Paper money, instalments of debts, occlusion of courts, making 
property a legal tender, may likewise be deemed aggressions 
on the rights of other States. As the citizens of every State, 
aggregately taken, stand more or less in the relation of cred 
itors or debtors to the citizens of every other State, acts of the 
debtor State in favor of debtors affect the creditor State in the 
same manner as they do its own citizens, who are, relatively, 
creditors towards other citizens. This remark may be extended 
to foreign nations. If the exclusive regulation of the value 
and alloy of coin was properly delegated to the federal author 
ity, the policy of it equally requires a controul on the States 
in the cases above mentioned. It must have been meant 1. 
To preserve uniformity in the circulating medium throughout the 
nation. 2. To prevent those frauds on the citizens of other 
States, and the subjects of foreign powers, which might disturb 
the tranquillity at home, or involve the union in foreign con 

The practice of many States in restricting the commercial 
intercourse with other States, and putting their productions 
and manufactures on the same footing with those of foreign 
nations, though not contrary to the federal articles, is certainly 
adverse to the spirit of the Union, and tends to beget retalia 
ting regulations, not less expensive and vexatious in themselves 
than they are destructive of the general harmony. 

5. Want of concert in 5 This defect is strongly illustrated in 

matters where common the state of our commercial affairs. How 

much has the national dignity, interest, 

and revenue, suffered from this cause ? Instances of inferior 

moment are the want of uniformity in the laws concerning 

naturalization and literary property; of provision for national 

seminaries; for grants of incorporation for national purposes, 

VOL. i. 21 

322 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

for canals, and other works of general utility; which may at 
present be defeated by the perverseness of particular States 
whose concurrence is necessary. 

6 Want of Guaranty 6. ^^ e Confederation is silent on this 
to the states of their point, and therefore by the second article 

Constitutions and laws ,11 T / , n * -, i ,1 , , . i 

against internal vio- the hands oi the lederal authority are tied, 
icnce. According to Republican Theory, Right 

and power, being both vested in the majority, are held to be 
synonymous. According to fact and experience, a minority 
may, in an appeal to force, be an overmatch for the majority: 
1. If the minority happen to include all such as possess the 
skill and habits of military life, and such as possess the great 
pecuniary resources, one-third only may conquer the remaining 
two-thirds. 2. One-third of those who participate in the choice 
of the rulers may be rendered a majority by the accession of 
those whose poverty excludes them from a right of suffrage, 
and who, for obvious reasons, will be more likely to join the 
standard of sedition than that of the established Government. 
3. Where slavery exists, the republican Theory becomes still 
more fallacious. 

7. A sanction is essential to the idea of 

7. Want of sanction to , . n ^ 

the laws, and of coercion law, as coercion is to that ot Government, 
in the Government of T1 federal S y S tem being destitute of both, 

the Contederacy. J 

wants the great vital principles of a Politi 
cal Constitution. Under the form of such a Constitution, it is 
in fact nothing more than a treaty of amity, of commerce, and 
of alliance, between independent and Sovereign States. From 
what cause could so fatal an omission have happened in the 
articles of Confederation? From a mistaken confidence that 
the justice, the good faith, the honor, the sound policy of the 
several legislative assemblies would render superfluous any ap 
peal to the ordinary motives by which the laws secure the obe 
dience of individuals; a confidence which does honor to the 
enthusiastic virtue of the compilers, as much as the inexperience 
of the crisis apologizes for their errors. The time which has 
since elapsed has had the double effect of increasing the light 
and tempering the warmth with which the arduous work may 


be revised. It is no longer doubted that a unanimous and punc 
tual obedience of 13 independent bodies to the acts of the fed 
eral Government ought not to be calculated on. Even during the 
war, when external danger supplied in some degree the defect 
of legal and coercive sanctions, how imperfectly did the States 
fulfil their obligations to the Union? In time of peace we see 
already what is to be expected. How, indeed, could it be other 
wise? In the first place, every general act of the Union must 
necessarily bear unequally hard on some particular member or 
members of it; secondly, the partiality of the members to their 
own interests and rights, a partiality which will be fostered by 
the courtiers of popularity, will naturally exaggerate the ine 
quality where it exists, and even suspect it where it has no ex 
istence; thirdly, a distrust of the voluntary compliance of each 
other may prevent the compliance of any, although it should be 
the latent disposition of all. Here are causes and pretexts 
which will never fail to render federal measures abortive. If 
the laws of the States were merely recommendatory to their 
citizens, or if they were to be rejudged by county authorities, 
what security, what probability would exist that they would be 
carried into execution? Is the security or probability greater 
in favor of the acts of Congress, which, depending for their ex 
ecution on the will of the State legislatures, are, tho nomi 
nally authoritative, in fact recommendatory only? 

S. Want of ratification 8 In S0me f the States the Confedera- 

by the people of the ar- tion is recognized by and forms a part of 

tides of Confederation. ,v /-^ ,., , .11 

the Constitution. In others, however, it 
has received no other sanction than that of the legislative au 
thority. From this defect two evils result: 1. Whenever a law 
of a State happens to be repugnant to an act of Congress, par 
ticularly when the latter is of posterior date to the former, it 
will be at least questionable whether the latter must not pre 
vail; arid as the question must be decided by the Tribunals of 
the State, they will be most likely to lean on the side of the 

2. As far as the union of the States is to be regarded as a 
league of sovereign powers, and not as a political Constitution, 

324 WORKS OF MADISON. 1737. 

by virtue of which they are become one sovereign power, so far 
it seems to follow, from the doctrine of compacts, that a breach 
of any of the articles of the Confederation by any of the parties 
to it absolves the other parties from their respective obliga 
tions, and gives them a right, if they choose to exert it, of dis 
solving the Union altogether. 

9. Multiplicity of laws 9- In developing the evils which viciate 
in the several States. t he political system of the United States, 
it is proper to include those which are found within the States 
individually, as well as those which directly affect the States 
collectively, since the former class have an indirect influence on 
the general malady, and must not be overlooked in forming a 
compleat remedy. Among the evils, then, of our situation, may 
well be ranked the multiplicity of laws, from which no State is 
exempt. As far as laws are necessary to mark with precision 
the duties of those who are to obey them, and to take from 
those who are to administer them a discretion which might be 
abused, their number is the price of liberty. As far as laws 
exceed this limit they are a nuisance; a nuisance of the most 
pestilent kind. Try the Codes of the several States by this 
test, and what a luxuriancy of legislation do they present. The 
short period of independency has filled as many pages as the 
century which preceded it. Every year, almost every session, 
adds a new volume. This may be the effect in part, but it can 
only be in part, of the situation in which the revolution has 
placed us. A review of the several Codes will shew that every 
necessary and useful part of the least voluminous of them might 
be compressed into one-tenth of the compass, and at the same 
time be rendered ten-fold as perspicuous. 

10. Mutability of the 10- This evil is intimately connected 
laws of the States. w ith the former, yet deserves a distinct 
notice, as it emphatically denotes a vicious legislation. We 
daily see laws repealed or superseded before any trial can have 
been made of their merits, and even before a knowledge of them 
can have reached the remoter districts within which they were 
to operate. In the regulations of trade, this instability becomes 
a snare not only to our citizens, but to foreigners also. 


11. injustice of the H- If the multiplicity and mutability of 
laws of the States. } aws p rO ve a want of wisdom, their injus 

tice betrays a defect still more alarming; more alarming, not 
merely because it is a greater evil in itself, but because it brings 
more into question the fundamental principle of republican 
Government, that the majority who rule in such Governments 
are the safest guardians both of public good and of private 
rights. To what causes is this evil to be ascribed? 

These causes lie 1. In the representative bodies. 2. In the 
people themselves. 

1. Representative appointments are sought from 3 motives: 
1. Ambition. 2. Personal interest. 3. Public good. Unhap 
pily, the two first are proved by experience to be most preva 
lent. Hence, the candidates who feel them, particularly the 
second, are most industrious and most successful in pursuing 
their object; and forming often a majority in the legislative 
Councils, with interested views, contrary to the interest and 
views of their constituents, join in a perfidious sacrifice of the 
latter to the former. A succeeding election, it might be sup 
posed, would displace the offenders, and repair the mischief. 
But how easily are base and selfish measures masked by pre 
texts of public good and apparent expediency? How fre 
quently will a repetition of the same arts and industry which 
succeeded in the first instance again prevail on the unwary to 
misplace their confidence? 

How frequently, too, will the honest but unenlightened rep 
resentative be the dupe of a favorite leader, veiling his selfish 
views under the professions of public good, and varnishing his 
sophistical arguments with the glowing colours of popular elo 

2. A still more fatal, if not more frequent cause, lies among 
the people themselves. All civilized societies are divided into 
different interests and factions, as they happen to be creditors 
or debtors, rich or poor, husbandmen, merchants, or manufac 
turers, members of different religious sects, followers of differ 
ent political leaders, inhabitants of different districts, owners 
of different kinds of property, &c., &c. Un republican Govern- 


ment, the majority, however composed, ultimately give the law. 
Whenever, therefore, an apparent interest or common passion 
unites a majority, what is to restrain them from unjust viola 
tions of the rights and interests of the minority, or of individ 
uals? Three motives only: 1. A prudent regard to their own 
good, as involved in the general and permanent good of the 
community. This consideration, although of decisive weight 
in itself, is found by experience to be too often unheeded. It is 
too often forgotten, by nations as well as by individuals, that 
honesty is the best policy. 2 dly . Respect for character. How 
ever strong this motive may be in individuals, it is considered 
as very insufficient to restrain them from injustice. In a mul 
titude its efficacy is diminished in proportion to the number 
which is to share the praise or the blame. Besides, as it has 
reference to public opinion, which, within a particular society, 
is the opinion of the majority, the standard is fixed by those 
whose conduct is to be measured by it. The public opinion 
without the society will be little respected by the people at 
large of any Country. Individuals of extended views and of 
national pride may bring the public proceedings to this stand 
ard, but the example will never be followed by the multitude. 
Is it to be imagined that an ordinary citizen or even Assembly 
man of R. Island, in estimating the policy of J^ajjCT jnoney, ever 
considered or cared in what light the measure would be viewed 
in France or Holland, or even in Massachusetts or Connecti 
cut? It was a sufficient temptation to both that it was for 
their interest; it was a sufficient sanction to the latter that it 
was popular in the State; to the former, that it was so in the 
neighbourhood. 3 dly . Will Religion, the only remaining mo 
tive, be a sufficient restraint? It is not pretended to be such, 
on men individually considered. Will its effect be greater on 
them considered in an aggregate view? Quite the reverse. 
The conduct of every popular assembly acting on oath, the 
strongest of religious ties, proves that individuals join without 
remorse in acts against which their consciences would revolt 
if proposed to them under the like sanction, separately, in their 
closets. When, indeed, Religion is kindled into enthusiasm, 


its force, like that of other passions, is increased by the sym 
pathy of a multitude. But enthusiasm is only a temporary 
state of religion, and, while it lasts, will hardly be seen with 
pleasure at the helm of Government. Besides, as religion in 
its coolest state is not infallible, it may become a motive to 
oppression as well as a restraint from injustice. Place three 
individuals in a situation wherein the interest of each depends 
on the voice of the others, and give to two of them an interest 
opposed to the rights of the third. Will the latter be secure? 
The prudence of every man would shun the danger. The rules 
;md forms of justice suppose and guard against it. Will two 
thousand in a like situation be less likely to encroach on the 
rights of one thousand? The contrary is witnessed by the no 
torious factions and oppressions which take place in corporate 
towns, limited as the opportunities are, and in little republics, 
when uncontrouled by apprehensions of external danger. (If an 
enlargement of the sphere is found to lessen the insecurity of 
private rights, it is not because the impulse of a common inter- 
/est or passion is less predominant in this case with the major 
ity, but because a common interest or passion is less apt to be 
felt, a~nd the requisite combinations less easy to be formed, by a 
great than by a small number. The society becomes broken 
info a greater variety of interests and pursuits of passions, 
Which check each other, whilst those who may feel a common 
(sentiment have less opportunity of communication and concert!) 
It may be inferred that the inconveniences of popular States, 
contrary to the prevailing Theory, are in proportion not to the 
extent, but to the narrowness of their limits. 

The great desideratum in Government is such a modification 
of the sovereignty as will render it sufficiently neutral between 
the different interests and factions to controul one part of the 
society from invading the rights of another, and, at the same 
time, sufficiently controuled itself from setting up an interest 
adverse to that of the whole society. In absolute Monarchies 
the prince is sufficiently neutral towards his subjects, but fre 
quently sacrifices their happiness to his ambition or his avarice. 
In small Republics, the sovereign will is sufficiently controuled 

328 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

from such a sacrifice of the entire Society, but is not sufficiently 
neutral towards the parts composing it. As a limited monarchy 
tempers the evils of an absolute one, so an extensive Republic 
meliorates the administration of a small Republic. 

An auxiliary desideratum for the melioration of the Repub 
lican form is such a process of elections as will most certainly 
extract from the mass of the society the purest and noblest 
characters which it contains; such as will at once feel most 
strongly the proper motives to pursue the end of their appoint 
ment, and be most capable to devise the proper means of attain 
ing it. 


PHILADELPHIA. May 15, 1787. 

DEAR SIR, Monday last was the day for the meeting of the 
Convention. The number as yet assembled is but small. Among 
the few is General Washington, who arrived on Sunday evening, 
amidst the acclamations of the people, as well as more sober 
marks of the affection and veneration which continues to be 
felt for his character. The Governor, Messrs. Wythe and Blair, 
and Doctor McClurg, are also here. Col. Mason is to be here 
in a day or two. There is a prospect of a pretty full meeting 
on the whole, though there is less punctuality in the outset than 
was to be wished. Of this the late bad weather has been the 
principal cause. I mention these circumstances because it is 
possible this may reach you before you hear from me through 
any other channel, and I add no others because it is merely 


PHILADELPHIA, May 27, 1787. 

DEAR SIR, I have put off, from day to day, writing to my 
friends from this place, in hopes of being able to say something 
of the Convention. Contrary to every previous calculation, the 

1787. LETTERS. 329 

bare quorum of seven States was not made up till the day be 
fore yesterday. The States composing it are New York, New 
Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, and 
South Carolina. Individual members are here from Massachu 
setts, Maryland, and Georgia, and our intelligence promises a 
complete addition of the first and last, as also of Connecticut, 
by to-morrow. General Washington was called to the chair 
by a unanimous voice, and has accepted it. The secretary is a 
Major Jackson. This is all that has yet been done, except the 
appointment of a committee for preparing the rules by which 
the Convention is to be governed in their proceedings. A few 
days will now furnish some data for calculating the probable 
result of the meeting. In general, the members seem to accord 
in viewing our situation as peculiarly critical, and on being 
averse to temporizing expedients. I wish they may as readily 
agree when particulars are brought forward. Congress are 
reduced to five or six States, and are not likely to do anything 
during the term of the Convention. 

A packet has lately arrived from France, but brings no news. 

I learnt with great pleasure, by the Governor, that you con 
tinued to enjoy a comfortable degree of health, and heartily 
wish this may find it still further confirmed; being, with sincere 
affection and the highest esteem, 

Your obed* friend and serv. 


PHILADELPHIA, May 27th, 1787. 

HON D SIR, We have been here for some time, suffering a 
daily disappointment from the failure of the deputies to assem 
ble for the Convention. Seven States were not made up till 
the day before yesterday. Our intelligence from New York 
promises an addition of three more by to-morrow. General 
Washington was unanimously called to the chair, and has ac 
cepted it. It is impossible, as yet, to form a judgment of the 

330 WORKS OF MADISON. 1737. 

result of this experiment. Every reflecting man becomes daily 
more alarmed at our situation. The unwise and wicked pro 
ceedings of the Governments of some States, and the unruly 
temper of the people of others, must, if persevered in. soon pro 
duce some new scenes among us. 

My enquiries concerning the iron do not promise any supply 
from the quarter you wished it, nor do I find the advantage 
which formerly existed in sending the other articles. The late 
regulations of Trade here and in Virginia, particularly the act 
of the latter requiring the cargoes destined to Frederiksburg, 
&c., to be deposited, in the first instance, at ports below, are ob 
structions to the intercourse. Tobacco, however, of the first 
quality, may be sent hither to advantage. Old Tobacco of this 
description will command six dollars. Mine, which has arrived 
safe, being neiv, will not, I fear, fetch me more than 32-9., Vir 
ginia currency. 

Mr. William Strother, who was lately here, gave me the first 
information of the event of the election. I was not more con 
cerned than surprised at the rejection of Major Moore. I am 
unable, utterly, to account for so sudden and great a change in 
the disposition of the people towards him. False reports occur 
as the most probable cause. 

I have enjoyed good health since I left Virginia, and learnt 
with much pleasure, from Mr. Strother, that he had heard noth 
ing otherwise with respect to my friends in general in Orange. 

Remember me affectionately to my mother and the rest of the 
family, and accept of the dutiful regards of, 

Your son. 


PHILADELPHIA, Juno 6th, 1787. 

DEAR SIR, The day fixed for the meeting of the Convention 
was the 14th ultimo. On the 25th, and not before seven States 
were assembled, General Washington was placed, una voce, in 

1787. LETTERS. 331 

the chair. The secretaryship was given to Major Jackson. 
The members present are: from Massachusetts; Mr. Gerry, Mr. 
Gorham, Mr. King, Mr. Strong. From Connecticut; Mr. Sher 
man, Doctor S. Johnson, Mr. Ellsworth. From New York; 
Judge Yates, Mr. Lansing, Mr. Hamilton. New Jersey; Gov 
ernor Livingston, Judge Brearley, Mr. Patterson, Attorney 
General; [Mr. Houston and Mr. Clarke are absent members.] 
From Pennsylvania; Dr. Franklin, Mr. Morris, Mr. Wilson, 
Mr. Fitzsimmons, Mr. G. Clymer, General Mifflin, Mr. Gouver- 
neur Morris, Mr. Ingersoll. From Delaware; Mr. John Dick- 
enson, Mr. Reed, Mr. Bedford, Mr. Broome, Mr. Bassett. From 
Maryland; Major Jenifer only. Mr. McHenry, Mr. Daniel 
Carroll, Mr. John Mercer, Mr. Luther Martin, are absent 
members. The three last have supplied the resignations of 
Mr. Stone, Mr. Carroll of Carrolton, and Mr. T. Johnson, as 
I have understood the case. From Virginia; General Wash 
ington, Governor Randolph, Mr. Blair, Col. Mason, Doctor 
McClurg, J. Madison. Mr. Wythe left us yesterday, being 
called home by the serious declension of his lady s health. 
From North Carolina; Col. Martin, late Governor, Doctor 
Williamson, Mr. Spaight, Col. Davy; Col. Blount is another 
member, but is detained by indisposition at New York. From 
South Carolina; Mr. John Rutledge, General Pinckuey, Mr. 
Charles Pinckney, Major Pierce Butler; Mr. Laurens is in 
the Commission from that State, but will be kept away by the 
want of health. From Georgia; Col. Few, Major Pierce, for 
merly of Williamsburg, and aid to General Greene, Mr. Hous 
ton. Mr. Baldwin will be added to them in a few days. 
Welton and Pendleton are also in the deputation. New 
Hampshire has appointed Deputies, but they are not expected, 
the State treasury being empty, it is said, and a substitution of 
private resources being inconvenient or impracticable. I men 
tion this circumstance to take off the appearance of backward 
ness, which that State is not in the least chargeable with, if we 
are rightly informed of her disposition. Rhode Island has not 
yet acceded to the measure. As their Legislature meet very 
frequently, and can at any time be got together in a week, it is 

332 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787> 

possible that caprice, if no other motive, may yet produce a 
unanimity of the States in this experiment. 

In furnishing you with this list of names, I have exhausted 
all the means which I can make use of for gratifying your 
curiosity. It was thought expedient, in order to secure un 
biassed discussion within doors, and to prevent misconceptions 
and misconstructions without, to establish some rules of caution, 
which will for no short time restrain even a confidential com 
munication of our proceedings. The names of the members 
will satisfy you that the States have been serious in this busi 
ness. The attendance of General Washington is a proof of the 
light in which he regards it. The whole community is big 
with expectation, and there can be no doubt but that the result 
will in some way or other have a powerful effect on our 

Mr. Adams book, which has been in your hands, of course 
has excited a good deal of attention. An edition has come out 
here, and another is in the press at N. York. It will probably 
be much read, particularly in the Eastern States, and contribute, 
with other circumstances, to revive the predelictions of this 
country for the British Constitution. Men of learning find 
nothing new in it; men of taste many things to criticise; and 
men without either, not a few things which they will not under 
stand. It will, nevertheless, be read and praised, and become 
a powerful engine in forming the public opinion. The name 
and character of the author, with the critical situation of our 
affairs, naturally account for such an effect. The book also lias 
merit, and I wish many of the remarks in it which are un 
friendly to republicanism may not receive fresh weight from 
the operations of our governments. 

I learn from Virginia that the appetite for paper money 
grows stronger every day. Mr. Henry is an avowod patron 
of the scheme, and will not fail, I think, to carry it through, 
unless the County [Prince Edward] which he is to represent 
shall bind him hand and foot by instructions. I am told that 
this is in contemplation. He is also said to be unfriendly to an 
acceleration of Justice. There is good reason to believe that 

17*7. LETTERS, 333 

he is hostile to the object of the Convention, and that he wishes 
either a partition or total dissolution of the Confederacy. 

I sent you a few days ago, by a vessel going to France, a box 
with peccan nuts planted in it. Mr. John Yaughan was so 
good as to make arrangements with the captain, both for their 
preservation during the voyage and the conveyance of them 
afterwards. I had before sent you, via England, a few nuts 
sealed up in a letter. 

Mr. Wythe gave me favorable accounts of your nephew in 
Williamsburg : and from the President of Hampden Sidney, 
who was here a few days ago, I received information equally 
pleasing of your younger nephew. 

I must beg you to communicate my affectionate respects to 
our friend Mazzei, and to let him know that I have taken every 
step for securing his claim on Dorman which I judged most 
likely to succeed. There is little doubt that Congress will 
allow him more than he owes Mr. Mazzei, and I have got from 
him such a draught on the Treasury board as I think will ensure 
him the chance of that fund. Dorman is at present in Virginia, 
where he has also some claims and expectations, but they are 
not in a transferable situation. I intended to have written to 
Mazzei, and must beg his pardon for not doing it. It is really 
out of my power at this time. 

Adieu. Yours affectionately. 


PHILADELPHIA, July 18th, 1787. 

DEAR SIR, The Convention continue to sit, and have been 
closely employed since the commencement of the session. I am 
still under the mortification of being restrained from disclosing 
any part of their proceedings. As soon as I am at liberty, I 
will endeavour to make amends for my silence, and if I ever 
have the pleasure of seeing you, shall be able to give you pretty 
full gratification. I have taken lengthy notes of everything 

334 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

that has yet passed, and mean to go on with the drudgery, if no 
indisposition obliges me to discontinue it. It is not possible to 
form any judgment of the future duration of the session. I am 
led by sundry circumstances to guess that the residue of the 
work will not be very quickly despatched. The public mind is 
very impatient for the event, and various reports are circula 
ting which tend to inflame curiosity. I do not learn, however, 
that any discontent is expressed at the concealment; and have 
little doubt that the people will be as ready to receive as we 
shall be able to propose a Government that will secure their 
liberties and happiness. 

I am not able to give you any account of what is doing at 
New York. Your correspondents there will no doubt supply 
the omission. The paper money here ceased to circulate very 
suddenly a few days ago. It had been for some time vibrating 
between a depreciation of 12 and of 20 per cent. Its entire 
stagnation is said to have proceeded from a combination of a 
few people with whom the country people deal on market days 
against receiving it. The consequence was that it was refused 
in the market, and great distress brought on the poorer citi 
zens. Some of the latter began in turn to form combinations of 
a more serious nature, in order to take revenge on the supposed 
authors of the stagnation. The timely interposition of some 
influential characters prevented a riot, and prevailed on the 
persons who were opposed to the paper to publish their willing 
ness to receive it. This has stifled the popular rage, and got 
the paper into circulation again. It is, however, still consider 
ably below par, and must have received a wound which will not 
easily be healed. Nothing but evil springs from this imaginary 
money wherever it is tried, and yet the appetite for it where it 
has not been tried continues to be felt. There is great reason 
to fear that the bitterness of the evil must be tasted in Virginia 
before the appetite there will be at an end. 

The wheat harvest throughout the continent has been uncom 
monly fine, both in point of quantity and quality. The crops 
of corn and Tobacco on the ground in Virginia are very differ 
ent in different places. I rather fear that in general they are 

1787. LETTERS. 335 

both bad, particularly the former. I have just received a letter 
from Orange, which complains much of appearances in that 
neighborhood, but says nothing of them in the parts adjacent. 

Present my best respects to Mr. Short and Mr. Mazzei. Noth 
ing has been done since my last to the latter with regard to his 
affair with Dorman. 

Wishing you all happiness, I am, dear sir, your affectionate 
friend and serv. 


PHILADELPHIA, July 28th, 1787. 

Hox D SiR, ******** 
I am sorry that I cannot gratify your wish to be informed of 
the proceedings of the Convention. An order of secrecy leaves 
me at liberty merely to tell you that nothing definitive is yet 
done, that the Session will probably continue for some time yet, 
that an adjournment took place on thursday last until Monday 
week, and that a Committee is to be at work in the mean time. 
Late information from Europe presents a sad picture of things 
in Holland. Civil blood has been already spilt, and various 
circumstances threaten a torrent of it. Many, it is said, are 
flying with their property to England. How much is it to be 
lamented that America does not present a more inviting asy 

Congress have been occupied for some time past on Western 
affairs. They have provided for the Government of the Coun 
try by an ordinance, of which a copy is herewith inclosed. 
They have on the anvil, at present, some projects for the most 
advantageous sale of the lands. Col. Carrington informs me that 
Indian affairs wear a very hostile appearance; that money must 
in all probability be expended in further treaties; that a Gen 
eral Confederacy has been formed of all the nations and tribes 
from the six nations, inclusive, to the Mississippi, under the au 
spices of Brandt; that a General Council was held in December 

336 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

last in form, near Detroit, in which was considered as griev 
ances the surveying of lands on the North West side of the 
Ohio, the pretext being, as usual, that the treaties which pre 
ceded that measure were made by parts only of the Nations 
whose consent was necessary, and that a united representation 
of this grievance has been received by Congress. That as to 
the hostilities on Kentucky, the superintendent of Indian affairs, 
or, in case of his inability to go, Col. Harmar, is ordered to 
proceed immediately to some convenient place for holding a 
Treaty with the hostile tribes, and by that means restore, if 
possible, peace in that quarter. In the mean time, Col. Harmer 
is so to fort the federal troops as to provide the best defence 
for the country, and to call for such aids of Militia as he shall 
find necessary. 

The crops of wheat in this and the neighbouring States, and, 
indeed, throughout the Continent, as far as I can learn, have 
been remarkably fine. I am sorry to hear that your crops of 
corn are likely to be so much shortened by the dry weather. 
The weather has been dry in spots in this quarter. At present 
it is extremely seasonable just here, and I do not know that it 
is otherwise elsewhere. I hope Virginia partakes of the bless 

A letter from my brother gave me the first notice of your in 
disposition. It is my most fervent wish that this may find your 
health thoroughly re-established, and that of my mother and the 
rest of the family unimpaired. Being, with entire affection, your 
dutiful son. 


PHILADELPHIA, Sept r 4th, 1787. 

HON D SIR, The Convention has not yet broken up, but its 
session will probably continue but a short time longer. Its 
proceedings are still under the injunction of secrecy. We hear 
that a spirit of insurrection has shown itself in the County of 

1787. LETTERS. 337 

Green Briar. Some other Counties have been added by report 
as infected with the same spirit; but the silence of #19 letters 
from Richmond on thJs latter fact gives us hopes that the Re 
port is not well founded. We understand, also, that the upper 
parts of the country have suffered extremely from the drought, 
and that the crops will not suffice for the subsistence of the in 
habitants. I hope the account is exaggerated, and wait with 
some impatience for a confirmation of this hope. 

The crops of wheat in this quarter have been uncommonly 
fine, and the latter rains have been so seasonable for the corn 
that the prospect of that crop is tolerably good. The price of 
good Tobacco here at present is 40$., Virginia money. 

As soon as the tie of secrecy shall be dissolved I will forward 
the proceedings of the Convention. In the mean time, with my 
affectionate regards for all the family, 

I remain, your dutiful son. 


PHILADELPHIA, Sept r 6th, 1787. 

DEAR SIR, My last was intended for the August packet, and 
put into the hands of Commodore Paul Jones. Some disap 
pointments prevented his going, and as he did not know but its 
contents might be unfit for the ordinary conveyance, he retained 
it. The precaution was unnecessary. For the same reason the 
delay has been of little consequence. The rule of secrecy in the 
Convention rendered that, as it will this letter, barren of those 
communications which might otherwise be made. As the Con 
vention will shortly rise, I should feel little scruple in disclo 
sing what will be public here before it could reach you, were it 
practicable for me to guard by cypher against an intermediate 
discovery. But I am deprived of this resource by the shortness 
of the interval between the receipt of your letter of June 20 and 
the date of this. This is the first day which has been free from 
Committee service, both before and after the hours of the House, 
i 22 

338 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

and the last that is allowed me by the time advertised for the 
sailing of the packet. 

The Convention consists now, as it has generally done, of 
eleven States. There has been no intermission of its session 
since a house was formed, except an interval of about ten days 
allowed a committee appointed to detail the general proposi 
tions agreed on in the House. The term of its dissolution can 
not be more than one or two weeks distant. A Government 
will probably be submitted to the people of the States, consist 
ing of a President, cloathed with Executive power; a Senate 
chosen by the Legislatures, and another House chosen by the 
people of the States, jointly possessing the Legislative power; 
and a regular Judiciary establishment. The mode of constituting 
the Executive is among the few points not yet finally settled. 
The Senate will consist of two members from each State, and 
appointed sexennially. The other House, of members appointed 
biennially by the people of the States, in proportion to their 
number. The Legislative power will extend to taxation, trade, 
and sundry other general matters. The powers of Congress 
will be distributed, according to their nature, among the several 
departments. The States will be restricted from paper money, 
and in a few other instances. These are the outlines. The ex 
tent of them may. perhaps, surprize you. I hazard an opinion, 
nevertheless, that the plan, should it be adopted, will neither 
effectually answer its national object, nor prevent the local mis 
chiefs which everywhere excite disgusts against the State Gov 
ernments. The grounds of this opinion will be the subject of a 
future letter. 

I have written to a friend in Congress, intimating, in a covert 
manner, the necessity of deciding and notifying the intentions 
of Congress with regard to their foreign Ministers after May 
next, and have dropped a hint on the communications of Dumas. 

Congress have taken some measures for disposing of the pub 
lic land, and have actually sold a considerable tract. Another 
bargain, I learn, is on foot for a further sale. 

Nothing can exceed the universal anxiety for the event of the 
meeting here. Reports and conjectures abound concerning the 

1787. LETTERS. 339 

nature of the plan which is to be proposed. The public, how 
ever, is certainly in the dark with regard to it. The Conven 
tion is equally in the dark as to the reception which may be 
given to it on its publication. All the prepossessions are on 
the right side, but it may well be expected that certain char 
acters will wage war against any reform whatever. My own 
idea is, that the public mind will now, or in a very little time, 
receive anything that promises stability to the public Councils 
and security to private rights, and that no regard ought to be 
had to local prejudices or temporary considerations. If the 
present moment be lost, it is hard to say what may be our fate. 

Our information from Virginia is far from being agreeable. 
In many parts of the Country the drought has been extremely 
injurious to the Corn. I fear, tho I have no certain informa 
tion, that Orange and Albemarle share in the distress. The 
people, also, are said to be generally discontented. A paper 
emission is again a topic among them; so is an instalment of all 
debts, in some places, and the making property a tender in 
others. The taxes are another source of discontent. The 
weight of them is complained of, and the abuses in collecting 
them still more so. In several Counties the prisons, and Court 
Houses, and Clerks 7 offices, have been wilfully burnt. In Green 
Briar, the course of Justice has been mutinously stopped, and 
associations entered into against the payment of taxes. No 
other County has yet followed the example. The approaching 
meeting of the Assembly will probably allay the discontents on 
one side by measures which will excite them on another. 

Mr. Wythe has never returned to us. His lady, whose ill 
ness carried him away, died some time after he got home. The 
other deaths in Virginia are Col. A. Gary, and a few days ago, 
Mrs. Harrison, wife of Benjamin Harrison, Jun r , and sister of 
J. F. Mercer. 

Wishing you all happiness, I remain, dear sir, yours affection 

Give my best wishes to Mazzei. I have received his letter 

340 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

and book, and will write by the next packet to Mm. Dorman 
is still in Virginia. Congress have done nothing for him in his 
affair. I am not sure that 9 States have been assembled of late. 
At present, it is doubtful whether there are seven. 


PHILADELPHIA, September 20th. 1787. 

DEAR SIR, The privilege of franking having ceased with 
the Convention, I have waited for this opportunity of inclosing 
you a copy of the proposed Constitution for the United States. 
I forbear to make any observations on it, either on the side of 
its merits or its faults. The best judges of both will be those 
who can combine with a knowledge of the collective and per 
manent interest of America a freedom from the bias resulting 
from a participation in the work. If the plan proposed be 
worthy of adoption, the degree of unanimity attained in the 
Convention is a circumstance as fortunate as the very respect 
able dissent on the part of Virginia is a subject of regret. The 
double object of blending a proper stability and energy in the 
Government with the essential characters of the republican 
form, and of tracing a proper line of demarkation between the 
national and State authorities, was necessarily found to be as 
difficult as it was desirable, and to admit of an infinite diver 
sity concerning the means among those who were unanimously 
agreed concerning the end. 

I find, by a letter from my father, that he and rny uncle Eras 
mus have lately paid their respects to Edmundsbury. I infer 
from his silence as to your health that no unfavorable change 
had happened in it. That this may find it perfectly re-estab 
lished is the sincere and affectionate wish of, 

Dear sir, your friend and humble serv*. 

1787. LETTERS. 341 


NEW YORK, Sept 30th, 1787. 

HON D SIR, By Mr. Blair, who left Philadelphia immediately 
after the rising of the Convention, I sent to the care of Mr. F. 
Maury a copy of the new Constitution proposed for the U. S. 
Mr. Blair set out in such haste that I had no time to write by 
him, and I thought the omission of the less consequence, as your 
last letter led me to suppose that you must, about that time, be 
absent on your trip to Frederick. 

I arrived here on monday last. The act of the Convention 
was then before Congress. It has been since taken up, and by 
a unanimous vote forwarded to the States, to be proceeded on 
as recommended by the Convention. What reception this new 
system will generally meet with cannot yet be pronounced. 
For obvious reasons, opposition is as likely to arise in Virginia 
as anywhere. The city of Philadelphia has warmly espoused 
it. Both parties there, it is said, have united on the occasion. 
It may happen, nevertheless, that a country party may spring 
up and give a preponderancy to the opposite scale. In this city 
the general voice coincides with that of Philadelphia, but there 
is less apparent unanimity, and it is pretty certain that the 
party in power will be active in defeating the new system. In 
Boston the reception given to it is extremely favorable, we are 
told, but more will depend on the country than the town. The 
echo from Connecticut and New Jerse}^, as far as it has reached 
us, denotes a favorable disposition in those States. 

I inclose a few plumb-stones from an excellent tree. I am 
aware that this is not the true mode of propagating the fruit, 
but it sometimes succeeds, and sometimes even improves the 

With my affectionate regards to my mother and the family, 
I remain, your dutiful son. 

342 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 


NEW YORK, October 14, 1787. 

DEAR SIR, The letter herewith enclosed was put into my 
hands yesterday by Mr. de Crevecoeur, who belongs to the Con 
sular establishment of France in this country. I add to it a 
pamphlet which Mr. Pinckney has submitted to the public, or 
rather, as he professes, to the perusal of his friends, and a 
printed sheet containing his ideas on a very delicate subject, 
too delicate, in my opinion, to have been properly confided to 
the press. He conceives that his precautions against any further 
circulation of the piece than he himself authorizes are so effect 
ual as to justify the step. I wish he may not be disappointed. 
In communicating a copy to you, I fulfil his wishes only. 

No decisive indications of the public mind in the Northern 
and middle States can yet be collected. The reports continue to 
be rather favorable to the act of the Convention from every quar 
ter ; but its adversaries will naturally be latest in shewing them 
selves. Boston is certainly friendly. An opposition is known 
to be in petto in Connecticut, but it is said not to be much 
dreaded by the other side. Rhode Island will be divided on 
this subject in the same manner that it has been on the question 
of paper money. The newspapers here have contained sundry 
publications animadverting on the proposed Constitution, and 
it is known that the Government party are hostile to it. There 
are on the other side so many able and weighty advocates, and 
the conduct of the Eastern States, if favorable, will add so much 
force to their arguments, that there is at least as much ground 
for hope as for apprehension. I do not learn that any opposi 
tion is likely to be made in New Jersey. The temper of Penn 
sylvania will be best known to you from the direct information 
which you cannot fail to receive through the newspapers and 
other channels. 

Congress have been of late employed chiefly in settling the 
requisition, and in making some arrangements for the Western 
country. The latter consist of the appointment of a Governor 
and Secretary, and the allotment of a sum of money for Indian 

1787. LETTERS. 343 

treaties, if they should be found necessary. The requisition, so 
far as it varies our fiscal system, makes the proportion of In 
dents receivable independently of specie, and those of different 
years indiscriminately receivable for any year, and does not, as 
heretofore, tie down the States to a particular mode of obtain 
ing them. Mr. Adams has been permitted to return home after 
February next, and Mr. Jefferson s appointment continued for 
three years longer. 

With the most perfect esteem, and most affectionate regard, 
I remain, dear sir, 

Your obt friend and serv*. 


NEW YORK, Ocf 24th, 1787. 

DEAR SIR, My two last, though written for the two last 
packets, have unluckily been delayed till this conveyance. The 
first of them was sent from Philadelphia to Commodore Jones, 
in consequence of information that he was certainly to go by 
the packet then about to sail. Being detained here by his busi 
ness with Congress, and being unwilling to put the letter into 
the mail without my approbation, which could not be obtained 
in time, he detained the letter also. The second was sent from 
Philadelphia to Col. Carrington, with a view that it might go 
by the last packet, at all events, in case Commodore Jones 
should meet with further detention here. By ill luck he was 
out of Town, and did not return till it was too late to make use 
of the opportunity. Neither of the letters were, indeed, of much 
consequence at the time, and are still less so now. I let them 
go forward, nevertheless, as they may mention some circum 
stances not at present in my recollection, and as they will pre 
vent a chasm in my part of a correspondence which I have so 
many motives to cherish by an exact punctuality. 

You will herewith receive the result of the Convention, which 
continued its session till the 17th of September. I take the lib- 


erty of making some observations on the subject, which will 
help to make up a letter, if they should answer no other pur 

It appeared to be the sincere and unanimous wish of the Con 
vention to cherish and preserve the Union of the States. No 
proposition was made, no suggestion was thrown out, in favor 
of a partition of the Empire into two or more Confederacies. 

It was generally agreed that the objects of the Union could 
not be secured by any system founded on the principle of a con 
federation of Sovereign States. A voluntary observance of the 
federal law by all the members could never be hoped for. A 
compulsive one could evidently never be reduced to practice, 
and if it could, involved equal calamities to the innocent and 
the guilty, the necessity of a military force, both obnoxious and 
dangerous, and, in general, a scene resembling much more a civil 
war than the administration of a regular Government. 

Hence was embraced the alternative of a Government which, 
instead of operating on the States, should operate without their 
intervention on the individuals composing them; and hence the 
change in the principle and proportion of representation. 

This ground-work being laid, the great objects which pre 
sented themselves were: 1. To unite a proper energy in the Ex 
ecutive, and a proper stability in the Legislative departments, 
with the essential characters of Republican Government. 2. 
To draw a line of demarkation which would give to the Gene 
ral Government every power requisite for general purposes, 
and leave to the States every power which might be most bene 
ficially administered by them. 3. To provide for the different 
interests of different parts of the Union. 4. To adjust the clash 
ing pretensions of the large and small States. Each of these 
objects was pregnant with difficulties. The whole of them to 
gether formed a task more difficult than can be well conceived 
by those who were not concerned in the execution of it. Add 
ing to these considerations the natural diversity of human opin 
ions on all new and complicated subjects, it is impossible to 
consider the degree of concord which ultimately prevailed as 
less than a miracle. 


The first of these objects, as respects the Executive, was pecu 
liarly embarrassing. On the question whether it should consist 
of a single person or a plurality of co-ordinate members, on the 
mode of appointment, on the duration in office, on the degree of 
power, on the re-eligibility, tedious and reiterated discussions 
took place. The plurality of co-ordinate members had finally 
but few advocates. Governor Randolph was at the head of 
them. The modes of appointment proposed were various: as 
by the people at large, by electors chosen by the people, by the 
Executives of the States, by the Congress; some preferring a 
joint ballot of the two Houses; some, a separate concurrent bal 
lot, allowing to each a negative on the other house; some, a 
nomination of several candidates by one House, out of whom a 
choice should be made by the other. Several other modifica 
tions were started. The expedient at length adopted seemed 
to give pretty general satisfaction to the members. As to the 
duration in office, a few would have preferred a tenure during 
good behaviour; a considerable number would have done so in 
case an easy and effectual removal by impeachment could be 

It was much agitated whether a long term, seven years for 
example, with a subsequent and perpetual ineligibility, or a short 
term, with a capacity to be re-elected, should be fixed. In favor 
of the first opinion were urged the danger of a gradual degen 
eracy of re-elections from time to time, into first a life and then 
a hereditary tenure, and the favorable effect of an incapacity to 
l>e reappointed on the independent exercise of the Executive 
authority. On the other side it was contended that the pros 
pect of necessary degradation would discourage the most dig 
nified characters from aspiring to the office ; would take away 
the principal motive to the faithful discharge of its duties the 
"hope of being rewarded with areappointinent ; would stimulate 
ambition to violent efforts for holding over the Constitutional 
term; and instead of producing an independent administration 
and a firmer defence of the constitutional rights of the depart 
ment, would render the officer more indifferent to the impor 
tance of a place which he would soon be obliged to quit forever, 

346 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

and more ready to yield to the encroachments of the Legisla 
ture, of which he might again be a member. 

The questions concerning the degree of power turned chiefly 
on the appointment to offices, and the controul on the Legisla 
ture. An absolute appointment to all offices, to some offices, to 
no offices, formed the scale of opinions on the first point. On 
the second, some contended for an absolute negative, as the only 
possible mean of reducing to practice the theory of a free Gov 
ernment, which forbids a mixture of the Legislative and Exec 
utive powers. Others would be content with a revisionary 
power, to be overruled by three-fourths of both Houses. It was 
warmly urged that the judiciary department should be associ 
ated in the revision. The idea of some was, that a separate 
revision should be given to the two departments; that if either 
objected, two-thirds, if both, three-fourths, should be necessary 
to overrule. 

In forming the Senate, the great anchor of the government, 
the questions, as they come within the first object, turned mostly 
on the mode of appointment, and the duration of it. The diifer- 
ent modes proposed were: 1. By the House of Representatives. 
2. By the Executive. 3. By electors chosen by the people for 
the purpose. 4. By the State Legislatures. On the point of 
duration, the propositions descended from good behaviour to 
four years, through the intermediate terms of nine, seven, six, 
and five years. The election of the other branch was first de 
termined to be triennial, arid afterwards reduced to biennial. 

The second object, the due partition of power between the 
General and local Governments, was perhaps, of all, the most 
nice and difficult. A few contended for an entire abolition of 
the States; some, for indefinite power of Legislation in the 
Congress, with a negative on the laws of the States; some, for 
such a power without a negative; some, for a limited power of 
legislation, with such a negative; the majority, finally, for a 
limited power without the negative. The question with regard 
to the negative underwent repeated discussions, and was finally 
rejected by a bare majority. As I formerly intimated to you 
my opinion in favor of this ingredient, I will take this occasion 

1787. LETTERS. 347 

of explaining myself on the subject. Such a check on the 
States appears to me necessary 1. To prevent encroachments 
on the General authority. 2. To prevent instability and in 
justice in the legislation of the States. 

]. Without such a check in the whole over the parts, our 
system involves the evil of imperia in imperio. If a compleat 
supremacy somewhere is not necessary in every society, a con- 
trouling power at least is so, by which the general authority 
may be defended against encroachments of the subordinate 
authorities, and by which the latter may be restrained from 
encroachments on each other. If the supremacy of the British 
Parliament is not necessary, as has been contended, for the 
harmony of that Empire, it is evident, I think, that without the 
royal negative, or some equivalent controul, the unity of the system 
would be destroyed. The want of some such provision seems 
to have been mortal to the antient confederacies, and to be the 
disease of the modern. Of the Lycian confederacy little is 
known. That of the Amphictyons is well known to have been 
rendered of little use whilst it lasted, and, in the end, to have been 
destroyed by {lie predominance of the local over the federal 
authority. The same observation may be made, on the author 
ity of Polybius, with regard to the Achaan League. The 
Helvetic System scarcely amounts to a confederacy, and is dis 
tinguished by too many peculiarities to be a ground of com 

The case of the United Netherlands is in point. The author 
ity of a Statdholder, the influence of a standing Army, the 
common interest in the conquered possessions, the pressure of 
surrounding danger, the guarantee of foreign powers, are not 
sufficient to secure the authority and interest of the generality 
against the anti-federal tendency of the provincial sovereignties. 
The German Empire is another example. A Hereditary chief, 
with vast independent resources of wealth and power, a federal 
Diet, with ample parchment authority, a regular Judiciary 
establishment, the influence of the neighbourhood of great and 
formidable nations, have been found unable either to maintain 
the subordination of the members, or to prevent their mutual 


contests and encroachments. Still more to the purpose is our 
own experience, both during the war and since the peace. En 
croachments of the States on the general authority, sacrifices 
of national to local interests, interferences of the measures of 
different States, form a great part of the history of our political 

It may be said that the new Constitution is founded on 
different principles, and will have a different operation. I 
admit the difference to be material. It presents the aspect 
rather of a feudal system of republics, if such a phrase may be 
used, than of a Confederacy of independent States. And what 
has been the progress and event of the feudal Constitutions? 
In all of them a continual struggle between the head and the 
inferior members, until a final victory has been gained, in some 
instances by one, in others, by^ the other of them. In one 
respect, indeed, there is a remarkable variance between the two 
cases. In the feudal system, the sovereign, though limited, was 
independent; and having no particular sympathy of interests 
with the great Barons, his ambition had as full play as theirs 
in the mutual projects of usurpation. In the American Consti 
tution, the general authority will be derived entirely from the 
subordinate authorities. The Senate will represent the States 
in their political capacity; the other House will represent the 
people of the States in their individual capacity. The former 
will be accountable to their constituents at moderate, the latter 
at short periods. The President also derives his appointment 
from the States, and is periodically accountable to them. Tins 
dependence of the General on the local authorities seems effec 
tually to guard the latter against any dangerous encroachments 
of the former; whilst the latter, within their respective limits, 
will be continually sensible of the abridgement of their power, 
and be stimulated by ambition to resume the surrendered por 
tion of it. 

We find the representatives of Counties and Corporations in 
the Legislatures of the States much more disposed to sacrifice 
the aggregate interest, and even authority, to the local views o r 
their constituents, than the latter to the former. I mean not by 

1787. LETTERS. 349 

these remarks to insinuate that an esprit de corps will not ex 
ist in the National Government, or that opportunities may not 
occur of extending its jurisdiction in some points. I mean only 
that the danger of encroachments is much greater from the 
other side, and that the impossibility of dividing powers of 
legislation in such a manner as to be free from different con 
structions by different interests, or even from ambiguity in the 
judgment of the impartial, requires some such expedient as I 
contend for. Many illustrations might be given of this impos 
sibility. How long has it taken to fix, and how imperfectly is 
yet fixed, the legislative power of corporations, though that 
power is subordinate in the most compleat manner? The line 
of distinction between the power of regulating trade and that 
of drawing revenue from it, which was once considered the bar 
rier of our liberties, was found, on fair discussion, to be abso 
lutely undefinable. No distinction seems to be more obvious 
than that between spiritual and temporal matters. Yet, wher 
ever they have been made objects of Legislation, they have 
clashed and contended with each other, till one or the other has 
gained the supremacy. Even the boundaries between the Ex 
ecutive, Legislative, and judiciary powers, though in general so 
strongly marked in themselves, consist, in many instances, of 
mere shades of difference. 

It may be said that the Judicial authority, under our new sys 
tem, will keep the States within their proper limits, and supply 
the place of a negative on their laws. The answer is, that it is 
more convenient to prevent the passage of a law than to declare 
it void after it is passed; that this will be particularly the case 
where the law aggrieves individuals, who may be unable to 
support an appeal against a State to the Supreme Judiciary; 
that a State which would violate the Legislative rights of the 
Union would not be very ready to obey a Judicial decree in 
support of them; and that a recurrence to force, which, in the 
event of disobedience, would be necessary, is an evil which the 
new Constitution meant to exclude as far as possible. 

2. A Constitutional negative on the laws of the States seems 
equally necessary to secure individuals against encroachments 

350 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

on their rights. The mutability of the laws of the States is 
found to be a serious evil. The injustice of them has been so 
frequent and so flagrant as to alarm the most stedfast friends 
of Republicanism. I am persuaded I do not err in saying that 
the evils issuing from these sources contributed more to that 
uneasiness which produced the Convention, and prepared the 
public mind for a general reform, than those which accrued to 
our national character and interest from the inadequacy of the 
Confederation to its immediate objects. A reform, therefore, 
which does not make provision for private rights, must be ma 
terially defective. The restraints against paper emissions and 
violations of contracts are not sufficient. Supposing them to be 
effectual as far as they go, they are short of the mark. Injus 
tice may be effected by such an infinitude of legislative expedi 
ents, that where the disposition exists, it can only be controuled 
by some provision which reaches all cases whatsoever. The 
partial provision made supposes the disposition which will 
evade it. 

fit may be asked how private rights will be more secure under 
the Guardianship of the General Government than under the 
State Governments, since they are both founded on the repub 
lican principle which refers the ultimate decision to the will of 
the majority, and are distinguished rather by the extent within 
which they will operate, than by any material difference in their 
structure. A full discussion of this question would, if I mistake 
not, unfold the true principles of Republican Government, and 
prove, in contradiction to the concurrent opinions of the theo 
retical writers, that this form of Government, in order to effect 
its purposes, must operate not within a small but an extensive 
sphere. I will state some of the ideas which have occurred to 
me on this subject. 

Those who contend for a simple democracy, or a pure repub 
lic, actuated by the sense of the majority, and operating within 
narrow limits, assume or suppose a case which is altogether 
fictitious. They found their reasoning on the idea that the 
people composing the Society enjoy not only an equality of po 
litical rights, but that they have all precisely the same inter- 

17S7. LETTERS. 351 

osts and the same feelings in every respect. Were this in re 
ality the case, their reasoning would be conclusive. The inter 
est of the majority would be that of the minority also; the de 
cisions could only turn on mere opinion concerning the good of 
the whole, of which the major voice would be the safest criterion; 
and within a small sphere, this voice could be most easily col 
lected, and the public affairs most accurately managed. 

We know, however, that no society ever did, or can, consist 
of so homogeneous a mass of Citizens. In the Savage state, in 
deed, an approach is made towards it, but in that state little or 
no Government is necessary. ln all civilized societies, distinc 
tions are various and unavoidable. A distinction of property 
results from that very protection which a free Government 
gives to unequal faculties of acquiring it. There will be rich 
and poor; creditors and debtors; a landed interest, a monied 
interest, a mercantile interest, a manufacturing interest. These 
classes may again be subdivided according to the different pro 
ductions of different situations and soils, and according to dif 
ferent branches of commerce and of manufactures. In addition 
to these natural distinctions, artificial ones will be founded on 
accidental differences in political, religious, or other opinions, 
or an attachment to the persons of leading individuals. How 
ever erroneous or ridiculous these grounds of dissention and 
faction may appear to the enlightened Statesman or the benev 
olent philosopher, the bulk of mankind, who are neither States 
men nor philosophers, will continue to view them in a different 

It remains, then, to be enquired, whether a majority having 
any common interest, or feeling any common passion, will find 
sufficient motives to restrain them from oppressing the minority^ 
An individual is never allowed to be a judge, or even a witness, 
in his own cause. If two individuals are under the bias of 
interest or enmity against a third, the rights of the latter could 
never be safely referred to the majority of the three. Will two 
thousand individuals be less apt to oppress one thousand, or two 
hundred thousand one hundred thousand ? 

Three motives only can restrain in such cases: 1. A prudent 


regard to private or partial good, as essentially involved in the 
general and permanent good of the whole. This ought, no 
doubt, to be sufficient of itself. Experience, however, shews 
that it has little effect on individuals, and perhaps still less on 
a collection of individuals, and least of all on a majority with 
the public authority in their hands. If the former are ready to 
forget that honesty is the best policy, the last do more. They 
often proceed on the converse of the maxim, that whatever is 
politic is honest. 2. Respect for character. This motive is not 
found sufficient to restrain individuals from injustice, and loses 
its efficacy in proportion to the number which is to divide the 
pain or the blame. Besides, as it has reference to public opin 
ion, which is that of the majority, the standard is fixed by those 
whose conduct is to be measured by it. 3. Religion. The in- 
efficacy of this restraint on individuals is well known. The 
conduct of every popular assembly, acting on oath, the strong 
est of religious ties, shews that individuals join without remorse 
in acts against which their consciences would revolt, if proposed 
to them, separately, in their closets. When, indeed, Religion is 
kindled into enthusiasm, its force, like that of other passions, is 
increased by the sympathy of a multitude. But enthusiasm is 
only a temporary state of Religion, and whilst it lasts will 
hardly be seen with pleasure at the helm. Even in its coolest 
state, it has been much oftener a motive to oppression than a 
restraint from it. 

If, then, there must be different interests and parties in 
society, and a majority, when united by a common interest or 
passion, cannot be restrained from oppressing the minority, what 
remedy can be found in a republican Government, where the 
majority must ultimately decide, but that of giving such an 
extent to its sphere, that no common interest or passion will be 
likely to unite a majority of the whole number in an unjust 
pursuit? In a large society, the people are broken into so 
many interests and parties, that a common sentiment is less 
likely to be felt, and the requisite concert less likely to be 
formed, by a majority of the whole. The same security seems 
requisite for the civil as for the religious rights of individuals. 

1787. LETTERS. 353 

If the same sect form a majority, and have the power, other 
sects will be sure to be depressed. Divide et impera, the 
reprobated axiom of tyranny, is, under certain qualifications, 
the only policy by which a republic can be administered on just 

It must be observed, however, that this doctrine can only 
hold within a sphere of a mean extent. As in too small a 
sphere oppressive combinations may be too easily formed against 
the weaker party, so in too extensive a one a defensive concert 
may be rendered too difficult against the oppression of those 
entrusted with the administration. The great desideratum in 
Government is so to modify the sovereignty as that it may be 
sufficiently neutral between different parts of the society to con- 
troul one part from invading the rights of another, and at the 
same time sufficiently controuled itself from setting up an 
interest adverse to that of the entire society. In absolute 
monarchies, the prince may be tolerably neutral towards differ 
ent classes of his subjects, but may sacrifice the happiness of all 
to his personal ambition or avarice. In small republics, the 
sovereign will is controuled from such a sacrifice of the entire 
society, but is not sufficiently neutral towards the parts com 
posing it. /In the extended Republic of the United States, the 
General Government would hold a pretty even balance between 
the parties of particular States, and be at the same time suffi 
ciently restrained, by its dependence on the community, from 
betraying its general interests.) 

Begging pardon for this immoderate digression, I return to 
the third object above mentioned, the adjustments of the differ 
ent interests of different parts of the continent. Some con 
tended for an unlimited power over trade, including exports as 
well as imports, and over slaves as well as other imports; some, 
for such a power, provided the concurrence of two-thirds of both 
Houses were required; some, for such a qualification of the 
power, with an exemption of exports and slaves; others, for an 
exemption of exports only. The result is seen in the Consti 
tution. South Carolina and Georgia were inflexible on the 
point of the Slaves. 

VOL. i. 23 

354 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

The remaining object created more embarrassment, and a 
greater alarm for the issue of the Convention, than all the rest 
put together. The little States insisted on retaining their 
equality in both branches, unless a compleat abolition of the 
State Governments should take place; and made an equality in 
the Senate a sine qua non. The large States, on the other hand, 
urged that as the new Government was to be drawn principally 
from the people immediately, and was to operate directly on 
them, not on the States; and, consequently, as the States would 
lose that importance which is now proportioned to the impor 
tance of their voluntary compliance with the requisitions of 
Congress, it was necessary that the representation in both 
Houses should be in proportion to their size. It ended in the 
compromise which you will see, but very much to the dis 
satisfaction of several members from the large States. 

It will not escape you that three names only from Virginia 
are subscribed to the act. Mr. Wythe did not return after the 
death of his lady. Doctor M c Clurg left the Convention some 
time before the adjournment. The Governor and Col. Mason 
refused to be parties to it. Mr. Gerry was the only other mem 
ber who refused. The objections of the Governor turn princi 
pally on the latitude of the general powers, and on the connec 
tion established between the President and the Senate. Fie 
wished that the plan should be proposed to the States, with 
liberty to them to suggest alterations, which should all be re 
ferred to another General Convention, to be incorporated into 
the plan as far as might be judged expedient. He was not in 
veterate in his opposition, and grounded his refusal to subscribe 
pretty much on his unwillingness to commit himself, so as not 
to be at liberty to be governed by further lights on the subject. 

Col. Mason left Philadelphia in an exceeding ill humour in 
deed. A number of little circumstances, arising in part from 
the impatience which prevailed towards the close of the busi 
ness, conspired to whet his acrimony. He returned to Virginia 
with a fixed disposition to prevent the adoption of the plan, if 
possible. He considers the want of a Bill of Rights as a fatal 
objection. His other objections are to the substitution of the 

1787. LETTERS. 355 

Senate in place of an Executive Council, and to the powers 
vested in that body ; to the powers of the Judiciary ; to the vice 
president being made president of the Senate; to the smallness 
of the number of Representatives; to the restriction on the 
States with regard to ex post facto laws; and most of all, prob 
ably, to the power of regulating trade by a majority only of 
each House. He has some other lesser objections. Being now 
under the necessity of justifying his refusal to sign, he will, of 
course, muster every possible one. His conduct has given great 
umbrage to the County of Fairfax, and particularly to the Town 
of Alexandria. He is already instructed to promote in the As 
sembly the calling a Convention, and will probably be either 
not deputed to the Convention, or be tied up by express instruc 
tions. He did not object in general to the powers vested in 
the National Government so much as to the modification. In 
some respects he admitted that some further powers would have 
improved the system. He acknowledged, in particular, that a 
negative on the State laws and the appointment of the State 
Executives ought to be ingredients; but supposed that the pub 
lic-mind would not now bear them, and that experience would 
hereafter produce these amendments. 

The final reception which will be given by the people at large 
to the proposed system cannot yet be decided. The Legislature 
of New Hampshire was sitting when it reached that State, and 
was well pleased with it. As far as the sense of the people 
there has been expressed, it is generally favorable. Boston is 
warm and almost unanimous in embracing it. The impression 
on the country is not yet known. No symptoms of disapproba 
tion have appeared. The Legislature of that State is now sit 
ting, through which the sense of the people at large will soon 
be promulged with tolerable certainty. The paper-money fac 
tion in Rhode Island is hostile. The other party zealously at 
tached to it. Its passage through Connecticut is likely to be 
very smooth and easy. There seems to be less agitation in this 
State [New York] than anywhere. The discussion of the sub 
ject seems confined to the Newspapers. The principal charac 
ters are known to be friendly. The Governour s party, which 

356 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

has hitherto been the popular and most numerous one, is sup 
posed to be on the opposite side; but considerable reserve is 
practiced, of which he sets the example. New Jersey takes the 
affirmative side, of course. Meetings of the people are declar 
ing their approbation and instructing their representatives. 

Pennsylvania will be divided. The City of Philadelphia, the 
Republican party, the Quakers, and most of the Germans, es 
pouse the Constitution. Some of the Constitutional leaders, 
backed by the Western Country, will oppose. An unlucky fer 
ment on the subject in their Assembly just before its late ad 
journment has irritated both sides, particularly the opposition, 
and by redoubling the exertions of that party may render the 
event doubtful. The voice of Maryland, I understand from 
pretty good authority, is, as far as it has been declared, strongly 
in favor of the Constitution. Mr. Chase is an enemy, but the 
Town of Baltimore, which he now represents, is warmly attached 
to it, and will shackle him as far as it can. Mr. Paca will 
probably be, as usual, in the politics of Chase. 

My information from Virginia is as yet extremely imperfect. 
I have a letter from General Washington, which speaks favor 
ably of the impression within a circle of some extent; and 
another from Chancellor Pendleton, which expresses his full 
acceptance of the pktn, and the popularity of it in his district. 
I am told, also, that Innes and Marshall are patrons of it. In 
the opposite scale are Mr. James Mercer, Mr. R. H. Lee, Doc 
tor Lee, and their connections, of course, Mr. M. Page, accord 
ing to report, and most of the Judges and bar of the General 
Court. The part which Mr. Henry will take is unknown here. 
Much will depend on it. I had taken it for granted, from a 
variety of circumstances, that he would be in the opposition, 
and still think that will be the case. There are reports, how 
ever, which favor a contrary supposition. 

From the States South of Virginia nothing has been heard. 
As the deputation from South Carolina consisted of some of its 
weightiest characters, who have returned unanimously zealous 
in favor of the Constitution, it is probable that State will read 
ily embrace it. It is not less probable that North Carolina 

1787. LETTERS. 357 

will follow the example, unless that of Virginia should counter 
balance it. Upon the whole, although the public mind will not 
be fully known, nor finally settled, for a considerable time, ap 
pearances at present augur a more prompt and general adop 
tion of the plan than could have been well expected. 

November 1. Commodore Paul Jones having preferred another 
vessel to the packet, has remained here till this time. The in 
terval has produced little necessary to be added to the above. 
The Legislature of Massachusetts have, it seems, taken up the 
act of the Convention, and have appointed, or probably will ap 
point, an early day for its State Convention. There are letters, 
also, from Georgia, which denote a favorable disposition. I 
am informed from Richmond that the new Election law from 
the Revised Code produced a pretty full House of Delegates, as 
well as a Senate, on the first day. It had previously had equal 
effect in producing full meetings of the freeholders for the county 
elections. A very decided majority of the Assembly is said to 
be zealous in favor of the New Constitution. The same is said 
of the Country at large. It appears, however, that individuals 
of great weight, both within and without the Legislature, are 
opposed to it. A letter I just have from Mr. A. Stuart names 
Mr. Henry, General Nelson, W. Nelson, the family of Cabells, 
S* George Tucker, John Taylor, and the Judges of the General 
Court, except P. Carrington. The other opponents he describes 
as of too little note to be mentioned, which gives a negative in 
formation of the characters on the other side. All are agreed 
that the plan must be submitted to a Convention. 

We hear from Georgia that that State is threatened with a 
dangerous war with the Creek Indians. The alarm is of so 
serious a nature that law-martial has been proclaimed, and they 
are proceeding to fortify even the town of Savannah. The idea 
there is, that the Indians derive their motives as well as their 
means from their Spanish neighbours. Individuals complain, 
also, that their fugitive slaves are encouraged by East Florida. 
The policy of this is explained by supposing that it is consid 
ered as a discouragement to the Georgians to form settlements 
near the Spanish boundaries. 

358 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

There are but few States on the spot here which will survive 
the expiration of the federal year, and it is extremely uncertain 
when a Congress will again be formed. We have not yet heard 
who are to be in the appointment of Virginia for the next 


NEW YORK, October 28th, 1787. 

DEAR SIR, I have received, and acknowledge with great 
pleasure, your favor of the 8th inst. The remarks which you 
make on the act of the Convention appear to me to be in gen 
eral extremely well founded. Your criticism on the clause ex 
empting vessels bound to and from a State from being obliged 
to enter, &c., in another, is particularly so. This provision was 
dictated by the jealousy of some particular States, and was in 
serted pretty late in the Session. The object of it was what you 
conjecture. The expression is certainly not accurate. Is not a 
religious test, as far as it is necessary, or would operate, in 
volved in the oath itself? If the person swearing believes in 
the Supreme Being, who is invoked, and in the penal conse 
quences of offending him, either in this or a future world, or 
both, he will be under the same restraint from perjury as if he 
had previously subscribed a test requiring this belief. If the 
person in question be an unbeliever in these points, and would, 
notwithstanding, take the oath, a previous test could have no 
effect. He would subscribe it as he would take the oath, with 
out any principle that could be affected by either. 

I find, by a letter from Mr. Dawson, that the proposed Con 
stitution is received by the Assembly with a more prompt and 
general approbation than could well have been expected. The 
example of Virginia will have great weight, and the more so, 
as the disagreement of the deputation will give it more the ap 
pearance of being the unbiassed expression of the public mind. 
It would be truly mortifying if anything should occur to pre 
vent or retard the concurrence of a State which has generally 
taken the lead on great occasions. And it would be the more 

1787. LETTERS. 359 

so in this case, as it is generally believed that nine of the States 
at least will embrace the plan, and, consequently, that the tardy 
remainder must be reduced to the dilemma of either shifting for 
themselves, or coming in without any credit for it. 

There is reason to believe that the Eastern States, Rhode 
Island excepted, will be among the foremost in adopting the 
system. No particular information is yet received from New 
Hampshire. The presumptive evidence of its good disposition, 
however, is satisfactory. The Legislature of Massachusetts is 
now sitting, and letters from good authority say that every 
thing goes well. Connecticut has unanimously called a Con 
vention, and left no room to doubt her favorable disposition. 
This State has long had the character of being anti-federal. 
Whether she will purge herself of it on this occasion, or not, is 
yet fo be ascertained. Most of the respectable characters are 
zealous on the right side. The party in power is suspected, on 
good grounds, to be on the wrong one. New Jersey adopts 
eagerly the Constitution. Pennsylvania is considerably divided: 
but the majority are, as yet, clearly with the Convention. I 
have no very late information from Maryland. The reports are, 
that the opposition will make no great figure. Not a word has 
been heard from the States South of Virginia, except from the 
lower parts of North Carolina, where the Constitution was well 
received. There can be little doubt, I think, that the three 
Southern States will go right, unless the conduct of Virginia 
were to mislead them. I enclose two of the last newspapers of 
this place, to which I add one of Philad a , containing the report 
of a late important decision of the Supreme Court there. If 
the report be faithful, I suspect it will not give you a high idea 
of the chancery knowledge of the Chief Justice. 

I am, dear sir, with sincere affection, your obt friend and 

360 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 


NEW YORK, November 18. 1787. 

DEAR SIR, Your favour of the 5th instant found me in Phil 
adelphia, whither I had proceeded, under arrangements for pro 
ceeding to Virginia or returning to this place, as I might there 
decide. I did not acknowledge it in Philadelphia, because I 
had nothing to communicate which you would riot receive more 
fully and correctly from the Mr. Morrises, who were setting out 
for Virginia. 

All my informations from Richmond concur in representing 
the enthusiasm in favor of the new Constitution as subsiding, 
and giving place to a spirit of criticism. I was fearful of such 
an event from the influence and co-operation of some of the ad 
versaries. I do not learn, however, that the cause has lost its 
majority in the Legislature, and still less among the people at 

I have nothing to add to the information heretofore given 
concerning the progress of the Constitution in other States. 
Mr. Gerry has presented his objections to the Legislature in a 
letter addressed to them, and signified his readiness, if desired, 
to give the particular reasons on which they were founded. 
The Legislature, it seems, decline the explanation, either from 
a supposition that they have nothing further to do in the busi 
ness, having handed it over to the Convention, or from an un 
willingness to countenance Mr. Gerry s conduct, or from both 
of these considerations. It is supposed that the promulgation 
of this letter will shake the confidence of some, and embolden 
the opposition of others in that State; but I cannot discover 
any ground for distrusting the prompt and decided concurrence 
of a large majority. 

I enclose herewith the seven first numbers of the Federalist, 
a paper addressed to the people of this State. They relate en 
tirely to the importance of the Union. If the whole plan should 
be executed, it will present to the public a full discussion of the 
merits of the proposed Constitution in all its relations. From 
the opinion I have formed of the views of a party in Virginia, 

1787. LETTERS. 3G1 

I am inclined to think that the observations on the first branch 
of the subject may not be superfluous antidotes in that State, 
any more than in this. If you concur with me, perhaps the 
papers may be put into the hands of some of your confidential 
correspondents at Richmond, who would have them reprinted 
there. I will not conceal from you that I am likely to have 
such a degree of connection with the publication here as to af 
ford a restraint of delicacy from interesting myself directly in 
the republication elsewhere. You will recognize one of the 
pens concerned in the task. There are three in the whole. A 
fourth may possibly bear a part. 

The intelligence by the packet, as far as I have collected it, 
is contained in the Gazette of yesterday. 

Virginia is the only State represented, as yet. When a Con 
gress will be formed is altogether uncertain. It is not very 
improbable, I think, that the interregnum may continue through 
out the winter. 

With every sentiment, <fcc. . 


NEW YORK, November 20, 1787. 

DEAR SIR, My last enclosed the seven first numbers of the 
paper of which I gave you some account. I now add the seven 
following numbers, which close the first branch of the subject 
the importance of the Union. The succeeding papers shall be 
forwarded from time to time as they come out. 

The latest authentic information from Europe places the 
Dutch in a wretched situation. The patriots will probably de 
pend, in the event, on external politics for the degree of secu 
rity and power that may be left them. The Turks and Russians 
have begun a war in that quarter, and a general one is not im 

I have heard nothing of consequence lately concerning the 
progress of the new Constitution. The Pennsylvania Conven- 


tion has probably by this time come to a decision, but it is not 
known here. 

Not more than two or three States are yet convened. The 
prospect of a quorum during the winter continues precarious. 

With every sentiment of respect and attachment, I remain, 
Dear Sir, your affect 6 , humble serv*. 


NEW YORK, December 7, 1787. 

DEAR SIR, My last enclosed a continuation of the Federalist 
to number 14, inclusive. I now add the numbers which have 

No authentic information has yet arrived concerning the pos 
ture of Europe. Reports, with some less doubtful symptoms, 
countenance the suspicions of war. 

I understand that the Constitution will certainly be adopted 
in Connecticut, the returns of the Deputies being now known, 
and a very great majority found to be its declared and firm 
friends. There will be more opposition in Massachusetts, but 
its friends there continue to be very sanguine of victory. New 
Hampshire, as far as I can learn, may be set down on the right 

I remain, dear Sir, with the highest respect and the most 
unfeigned attachment, your obedient, humble servant. 


NEW YORK, December 9th, 1787. 

DEAR SIR, Your favor of the 17th of September, with sun 
dry other letters and packets, came duly by the last packet. 
Such of them as were addressed to others were duly forwarded. 
The three boxes, marked I. M., G. W., and A. D., it appears, 

1787. LETTERS. 363 

were never shipped from Havre. Whenever they arrive your 
commands with regard to the two last shall be attended to, as 
well as those relating to some of the contents of the first. I 
have not been able to get any satisfactory account of William 
S. Browne. Alderman Broom tells me that he professed to re 
ceive the money from him for the use of Mr. Burke. I shall 
not lose sight of the subject, and will give you the earliest in 
formation of the result of my enquiries. 

The annexed list of trees will shew you that I have ventured 
to substitute half a dozen sorts of apples in place of the pippins 
alone, and to add 8 other sorts of American Trees, including 
twenty of the Sugar maple. They were obtained from a Mr. 
Prince, in the neighborhood of this city, who deals largely in 
this way, and is considered as a man of worth. I learn from 
him that he has executed various commissions for Europe and 
the West Indies, as well as places less distant, and that he has 
been generally very successful in preserving the trees from per 
ishing by such distant transplantations. He does not use moss, 
as you prescribe, but encloses the roots in a bag of earth. As 
moss is not to be got, he says, it is uncertain whether necessity 
or choice gives the preference to the latter. I enclose a cata 
logue of his nursery, and annex the price of the sample I send 
you. that you may, if you incline, give orders for any other sup 
ply. I doubt whether the Virginia Red Birds are found in this 
part of America. Opossums are not rare in the milder parts 
of New Jersey, but are very rare this far Northward. I shall, 
nevertheless, avail myself of any opportunities which may hap 
pen for procuring and forwarding both. 

Along with the box of trees, I send by the packet, to the care 
of Mr. Limosin, two barrels of New-town pippins, and two of 
Cranberries. In one of the latter the Cranberries are put up 
dry, in the other in water; the opinions and accounts differing 
as to the best mode, you will note the event of the experiment. 

The Constitution proposed by the late Convention engrosses 
almost the whole political attention of America. All the Legis 
latures, except that of Rhode Island, which has assembled, have 
agreed in submitting it to State Conventions. Virginia has 

364 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

pet the example of opening a door for amendments, if the Con 
vention there should chuse to propose them. Maryland has 
copied it. The States which preceded referred the Constitu 
tion, as recommended by the General Convention, to be ratified 
or rejected as it stands. The Convention of Pennsylvania is 
now sitting. There are about 44 or 45 on the affirmative, and 
about half that number on the opposite side; a considerable 
number of the Constitutional party, as it was called, having 
joined the other party in espousing the Federal Constitution. 
The returns of deputies for the Convention of Connecticut are 
known, and prove, as is said by those who know the men, that 
a very great majority will adopt it in that State. 

The event in Massachusetts lies in greater uncertainty. The 
friends of the New Government continue to be sanguine. New 
Hampshire, from every account, as well as from some general 
inducements felt there, will pretty certainly be on the affirma 
tive side. So will New Jersey and Delaware. New York is 
much divided. She will hardly dissent from New England, par 
ticularly if the conduct of the latter should coincide with that 
of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. A more formidable opposi 
tion is likely to be made in Maryland than was at first conjec 
tured. Mr. Mercer, it seems, who was a member of the Con 
vention, though his attendance was but for a short time, is be 
come an auxiliary to Chase. Johnson, the Carrolls, Governor 
Lee, and most of the other characters of weight, are on the 
other side. Mr. T. Stone died a little before the Government 
was promulged. 

The body of the people in Virginia, particularly in the upper 
and lower Country, and in the Northern neck, are, as far as I 
can gather, much disposed to adopt the New Constitution. The 
middle Country, and the South side of James River, are prin 
cipally in the opposition to it. As yet a large majority of the 
people are under the first description; as yet, also, are a major 
ity of the Assembly. What change may be produced by the 
united influence and exertions of Mr. Henry, Mr. Mason, and 
the Governor, with some pretty able auxiliaries, is uncertain. 
My information leads me to suppose there must be three parties 

1787. LETTERS. 365 

in Virginia. The first, for adopting without attempting amend 
ments. This includes General Washington and the other depu 
ties who signed the Constitution, Mr. Pendleton, (Mr. Marshall, 
I believe,) Mr. Nicholas, Mr. Corbin, Mr. Zach y Johnson, Col. 
Innes, (Mr. B. Randolph, as I understand,) Mr. Harvey, Mr. 
Gabriel Jones, Doctor Jones, &c., &c. At the head of the sec 
ond party, which urges amendments, are the Governor and Mr. 
Mason. These do not object to the substance of the Govern 
ment, but contend for a few additional guards in favor of the 
rights of the States and of the people. I am not able to enu 
merate the characters which fall in with their ideas, as distin 
guished from those of a third class, at the head of which is Mr. 
Henry. This class concurs at present with the patrons of 
amendments, but will probably contend for such as strike at 
the essence of the system, and must lead to an adherence to the 
principle of the existing confederation, which most thinking 
men are convinced is a visionary one, or to a partition of the 
Union into several Confederacies. 

Mr. Harrison, the late Governor, is with Mr. Henry. So 
are a number of others. The General and Admiralty Courts, 
with most of the Bar, oppose the Constitution, but on what par 
ticular grounds I am unable to say. General Nelson, Mr. John 
Page, Col. Bland, &c., are also opponents, but on what princi 
ple and to what extent I am equally at a loss to say. In gen 
eral, I must note that I speak with respect to many of these 
names from information that may not be accurate, and merely 
as I should do in a free and confidential conversation with you. 
I have not yet heard Mr. Wythe s sentiments on the subject. 
Doctor McClurg, the other absent deputy, is a very strenuous 
defender of the new Government. Mr. Henry is the great ad 
versary who will render the event precarious. He is, I find, 
with his usual address, working up every possible interest into 
a spirit of opposition. 

It is worthy of remark, that whilst in Virginia, and some of 
the other States in the middle and Southern Districts of the 
Union, the men of intelligence, patriotism, property, and inde 
pendent circumstances, are thus divided, all of this description, 

366 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

with a few exceptions, in the Eastern States, and most of the 
Middle States, are zealously attached to the proposed Constitu 
tion. In New England, the men of letters, the principal officers 
of Government, the Judges and lawyers, the Clergy, and men 
of property, furnish only here and there an adversary. It is 
not less worthy of remark, that in Virginia, where the mass of 
the people have been so much accustomed to be guided by their 
rulers on all new and intricate questions, they should on the 
present, which certainly surpasses the judgment of the greater 
part of them, not only go before, but contrary to their most 
popular leaders. And the phenomenon is the more wonderful, 
as a popular ground is taken by all the adversaries to the new 
Constitution. Perhaps the solution in both these cases would 
not be very difficult; but it would lead to observations too dif 
fusive, and to you unnecessary. I will barely observe that the 
case in Virginia seems to prove that the body of sober and 
steady people, even of the lower order, are tired of the vicissi 
tudes, injustice, and follies, which have so much characterized 
public measures, and are impatient for some change which prom 
ises stability and repose. 

The proceedings of the present Assembly are more likely to 
cherish than remove this disposition. I find Mr. Henry has 
carried a Resolution for prohibiting the importation of Rum, 
brandy, and other ardent spirits; and if I am not misinformed, 
all manufactured leather, hats, and sundry other articles, are 
included in the prohibition. Enormous duties, at least, are 
likely to take place on the last and many other articles. A 
project of this sort, without the concurrence of the other States, 
is little short of madness. With such concurrence, it is not 
practicable without resorting to expedients equally noxious to 
liberty and economy. The consequences of the experiment in a 
single State as unprepared for manufactures as Virginia may 
easily be preconceived. 

The Revised Code will not be resumed. Mr. Henry is an 
inveterate adversary to it. Col. Mason made a regular and 
powerful attack on the port Bill, but was left in a very small 
minority. I found at the last session that that regulation was 

1787. LETTERS. 367 

not to be shaken, though it certainly owes its success less to it3 
principal merits t,han to collateral and casual considerations. 
The popular ideas are, that by favoring the collection of duties 
on imports, it saves the solid property from direct taxes; and 
that it injures Great Britain by lessening the advantage she has 
over other nations in the trade of Virginia. 

We have no certain information from the three Southern 
States concerning the temper relative to the new Government. 
It is in general favorable, according to the vague accounts we 
have. Opposition, however, will be made in each. Mr. Wiley 
Jones and Governor Gas well have been named as opponents in 
North Carolina. 

So few particulars have come to hand concerning the state of 
things in Georgia, that I have nothing to add, on that subject, 
to the contents of my last by Commodore Jones. 

We have two or three States only yet met for Congress. As 
many more can be called in, when their attendance will make a 
quorum. It continues to be problematical whether the inter 
regnum will not be spun out through the winter. 

We remain in great uncertainty here with regard to a war in 
Europe. Reports and suspicions are strongly on the side of one. 
Such an event may be considered in various relations to this 
country. It is pretty certain, I think, that if the present lax 
state of our General Government should continue, we shall not 
only lose certain capital advantages which might be drawn 
from it, but be in danger of being plunged into difficulties, 
which may have a very serious effect on our future fortunes. 


NEW YORK, December 14, 1787. 

DEAR SIR, Along with this are enclosed a few copies of the 
latest gazettes, containing the additional papers in favor of the 
federal Constitution. 

I find by letters from Richmond that the proceedings of the 
Assembly are, as usual, rapidly degenerating with the progress 

308 WORKS OF MADISON. 1787. 

of the Session; and particularly that the force opposed to the 
act of the Convention has gained the ascendance. There is 
still, nevertheless, a hope left that different characters and a 
different spirit may prevail in their successors, who are to make 
the final decision. In one point of view, the present Assembly 
may, perhaps, be regarded as pleading most powerfully the cause 
of the new government, for it is impossible for stronger proofs 
to be found than in their conduct of the necessity of some such 
anchor against the fluctuations which threaten to shipwreck our 

I am, dear Sir, with the most sincere and perfect esteem, your 
affect and obt humble servant. 


NEW YORK, December 2G. 1787. 

DEAR SIR, I am just informed by a Delegate from New 
Hampshire that he has a letter from President Sullivan, which 
tells him that the Legislature had" unanimously agreed to call a 
Convention, as recommended, to meet in February. The second 
Wednesday is the day, if I have not mistaken it. We have no 
further information of much importance from Massachusetts. 
It appears that Cambridge, the residence of Mr. Gerry, has 
left him out of the choice for the Convention, and put in Mr. 
Dana, formerly Minister of the United States in Europe, and 
another gentleman, both of them firmly opposed to Mr. Gerry s 
politics. I observe, too, in a Massachusetts paper, that the 
omission of Col. Mason s objection with regard to commerce, in 
the lirst publication of his objections, has been supplied. This 
will more than undo the effect of the mutilated view of them. 
New Jersey, the newspapers tell us, has adopted the Constitu 
tion unanimously. Our European intelligence remains perfectly 
as it stood at the date of my last. 

With the most affectionate esteem and attachment, I am, D r 
Sir, your obt and very humble serv*. 

1788. LETTERS. 369 


NEW YORK, January 14, 1788. 

DEAR SIR, The daily Advertiser of this date contains seve 
ral important articles of information, which need only to be 
referred to. I enclose it, with a few other late papers. Neither 
French nor English packet is yet arrived, and the present 
weather would prevent their getting in if they should be on the 
coast. I have heard nothing of consequence from Massachusetts 
since my last. The accounts from New Hampshire continue to 
be as favorable as could be wished. From South Carolina we 
get no material information. A letter from Georgia of the 25th 
of December says that the Convention was getting together at 
Augusta, and that everything wore a federal complexion. 
North Carolina, it seems, has been so complaisant to Virginia 
as to postpone her Convention till July. We are without a 

With perfect esteem and attachment, I remain, Dear Sir, your 
most obed fc humble servant. 


NEW YORK, January 20, 1788. 

DEAR SIR, The Count de Moustier arrived here a few days 
ago. as successor to the Chevalier de la Luzerne. His passage 
has been so tedious that I am not sure that the despatches from 
Mr. Jefferson make any considerable addition to former intelli 
gence. I have not yet seen them, but am told that this is the 
case. In general, it appears that the affairs of Holland are put 
into a pacific train. The Prussian troops are to be withdrawn, 
and the event settled by negotiations. But it is still possible 
that the war between the Russians and Turks may spread a 
general flame throughout Europe. 

The intelligence from Massachusetts begins to be very omi 
nous to the Constitution. The anti-federal party is reinforced 

VOL. i. 24 

370 WORKS OF MADISON. 1788. 

by the insurgents, and by the province of Maine, which appre 
hends greater obstacles to the scheme of a separate government 
from the new system than may be otherwise experienced; and, 
according to the prospect at the date of the last letters, there 
was very great reason to fear that the voice of that State would 
be in the negative. The operation of such an event on this 
State may easily be foreseen. Its Legislature is now sitting, 
and is much divided. A majority of the Assembly are said to 
be friendly to the merits of the Constitution. A majority of 
the Senators actually convened are opposed to a submission of 
it to a Convention. The arrival of the absent members will 
render the voice of that branch uncertain on the point of a 
Convention. The decision of Massachusetts either way will 
involve the result in this State. The minority in Pennsylvania 
is very restless under their defeat. If they can get an assem 
bly to their wish, they will endeavour to undermine what has 
been done there. If backed by Massachusetts, they will prob 
ably be emboldened to make some more rash experiment. The 
information from Georgia continues to be favorable. The little 
we get from South Carolina is of the same complexion. 

If I am not misinformed as to the arrival of some members 
for Congress, a quorum is at length made up. 

With the most perfect esteem and attachment, I remain, dear 
sir, your obt and humble servant. 


NEW YORK, January 25, 17 88. 

DEAR SIR, I have been favored since my last with yours of 
the 10th instant, with a copy of the Governor s letter to the 
Assembly. I do not know what impression the letter may make 
in Virginia. It is generally understood here that the argu 
ments contained in it in favor of the Constitution are much 
stronger than the objections which prevented his assent. His 
arguments are forcible in all places, and with all persons. His 

1788. LETTERS. 371 

objections are connected with his particular way of thinking on 
the subject, in which many of the adversaries to the Constitu 
tion do not concur. 

The information from Boston by the mail on the evening be 
fore last has not removed our suspense. The following is an 
extract of a letter from Mr. King, dated on the 16th instant: 

" We may have 360 members in our Convention. Not more 
than 330 have yet taken their seats. Immediately after the 
settlement of elections, the Convention resolved that they would 
consider and freely debate on each paragraph, without taking 
a question on any of them individually; and that on the ques 
tion whether they would ratify, each member should be at lib 
erty to discuss the plan at large. This Resolution seems to 
preclude the idea of amendments; and hitherto the measure has 
not been suggested. I, however, do not, from this circumstance, 
conclude that it may not hereafter occur. The opponents of 
the Constitution moved that Mr. Gerry should be requested to 
take a seat in the Convention, to answer such enquiries as the 
Convention should make concerning facts which happened in 
the passing of the Constitution. Although this seems to be a 
very irregular proposal, yet, considering the jealousies which 
prevail with those who made it, who are certainly not the most 
enlightened part of the Convention, and the doubt of the issue 
had it been made a trial of strength, several friends of the Con 
stitution ttnited with the opponents, and the resolution was 
agreed to, and Mr. Gerry has taken his seat. To-morrow, we 
are told, certain enquiries are to be moved for by the opposi 
tion, and that Mr. Gerry, under the idea of stating facts, is to 
state his reasons, &c. This will be opposed, and we shall, on 
the division, be able to form some idea of our relative strength. 
From the men who are in favor of the Constitution every rea 
sonable explanation will be given, and arguments really new, 
and in my judgment most excellent, have been and will be pro 
duced in its support. But what will be its fate, I confess I am 
unable to discern. No question ever classed the people of this 
State in a more extraordinary manner, or with more apparent 

37:2 WORKS OF MADISON. nss. 

A Congress of seven States was made up on Monday. Mr. 
C. Griffin has been placed in the chair. This is the only step 
yet taken. 

I remain, with the highest respect and attachment, yours af 
fectionately. <4 


NEW YORK, January 28, 17S8. 

DEAR SIR, The information which I have by the Eastern 
mail rather increases than removes the anxiety produced by the 
last. I give it to you as I have received it, in the words of Mr. 

"BOSTON, 20 January, 1788. 

"Our Convention proceeds slowly. An apprehension that 
the liberties of the people are in danger, and a distrust of men 
of property or education, have a more powerful effect upon the 
minds of our opponents than any specific objections against the 
Constitution. If the opposition was grounded on any precise 
points, I am persuaded that it might be weakened, if not en 
tirely overcome. But any attempt to remove their fixed and 
violent jealousy seems hitherto to operate as a confirmation of 
that baneful passion. The opponents affirm to each other that 
they have an unalterable majority on their side. The friends 
doubt the strength of their adversaries, but are not entirely 
confident of their own. An event has taken place relative to 
Mr. Gerry, which, without great caution, may throw us into 
confusion. I informed you by the last post on what terms Mr. 
Gerry took a seat in the Convention. Yesterday, in the course 
of Debate on the Construction of the Senate, Mr. G., unasked, 
informed the Convention that he had some information to give 
the Convention on the subject then under discussion. Mr. Dana 
and a number of the most respectable members remarked upon 
the impropriety of Mr. G. s conduct. Mr. G. rose with a view 
to justify himself. He was immediately prevented by a number 


of objectors. This brought on an irregular conversation whether 
Mr. G. should be heard. The hour of adjournment arrived, and 
the President adjourned the House. Mr. Gerry immediately 
charged Mr. Dana with a design of injuring his reputation by 
partial information, and preventing his having an opportunity 
to communicate important truths to the Convention. This 
charge drew a warm reply from Mr. Dana. The members col 
lected about them, took sides as they were for or against the 
Constitution, and we were in danger of the utmost confusion. 
However, the gentlemen separated, and I suppose to-morrow 
morning will renew the discussion before the Convention. I 
shall be better able to conjecture the final issue by next post." 

There are other letters of the same date from other gentle 
men on the spot, which exhibit rather a more favorable prospect. 
Some of them, I am told, are even flattering. Accounts will 
always vary in such cases, because they must be founded on 
different opportunities of remarking the general complexion, 
where they take no tincture from the opinions or temper of the 

I remain, dear Sir, with the most perfect esteem and attach 
ment, your obt serv fc . 


NEW YORK, February 1, 1788. 

DEAR SIR, The eastern mail which arrived yesterday brought 
me a letter from Mr. King, of which a copy follows: 

Our prospects are gloomy, but hope is not entirely extin 
guished. Gerry has not returned to the Convention, and I 
think will not again be invited. We are now thinking of 
amendments to be submitted, not as a condition of our assent 
and ratification, but as the opinion of the Convention subjoined 
to their ratification. This scheme may gain a few members, but 
ihe issue is doubtful." 

In this case, as in the last, Mr. King s information is accom- 

374 WORKS OF MADISON. 1788. 

panied with letters from other persons on the spot, which dwell 
more on the favorable side of the prospect. His anxiety on the 
subject may give a greater activity to his fears than to his 
hopes, and he would naturally lean to the cautious side. These 
circumstances encourage me to put as favorable a construction 
on his letter as it will bear. 

A vessel is arrived here from Charleston, which brings let 
ters that speak with confidence of an adoption of the federal 
Constitution in that State, and make it very probable that 
Georgia had actually adopted it. Some letters from North 
Carolina speak a very equivocal language as to the prospect 

The French Packet arrived yesterday. As she has been out 
since early in November, little news can be expected by her. I 
have not yet got my letters, if there be any for me, and I have 
heard the contents of no others. 

I remain, Dear Sir, with the utmost respect and attachment, 
your affectionate serv . 


NEW YORK, February 8, 1788. 

DEAR SIR, The prospect in Massachusetts seems to brighten, 
if I view in the true light the following representation of it: 
" This day, (January 30,) for the first time, our President, Mr. 
Hancock, took his seat in Convention, and we shall probably 
terminate our business on Saturday or tuesday next. I cannot 
predict the issue, but our hopes are increasing. If Mr. Han 
cock does not disappoint our present expectations, our wishes 
will be gratified. 7 Several reflections are suggested by this 
paragraph which countenance a favorable inference from it. I 
hope, from the rapid advance towards a conclusion of the busi 
ness, that even the project of recommendatory alterations has 
been dispensed with. 

The form of the ratification of Georgia is contained in one 

1788. LETTERS. 375 

of the papers herewith enclosed. Every information from 
South Carolina continues to be favorable. I have seen a letter 
from North Carolina, of pretty late date, which admits that a 
very formidable opposition exists, but leans towards a federal 
result in that State. As far as I can discover, the state of the 
question in North Carolina is pretty analogous to that in Vir 
ginia. The body of the people are better disposed than some 
of a superior order. The Resolutions of New York for calling 
a convention appear, by the paper, to have passed by a majority 
of two only in the House of Assembly. I am told this pro 
ceeded in some degree from an injudicious form in which the 
business was conducted, and which threw some of the federal 
ists into the opposition. 

I am just informed by a gentleman who has seen another let 
ter from Boston, of the same date with mine, that the plan of 
recommendatory alterations has not been abandoned, but that 
they will be put into a harmless form, and will be the means of 
saving the Constitution from all risk in Massachusetts. 

With the highest respect and attachment, I remain, Dear 
Sir, y r affect 6 and hum 16 serv*. 


NEW YORK, February 11, 1788. 

DEAR SIR, The newspaper enclosed, with the letter which 
follows, comprises the information brought me by the mail of 

"BOSTON, Feby 3. 

"I enclose a newspaper containing the propositions commu 
nicated by Mr. Hancock to the Convention on Thursday last. 
Mr. Samuel Adams, who, contrary to his own sentiments, has 
been hitherto silent in Convention, has given his public and ex 
plicit approbation of Mr. Hancock s propositions. We natter 
ourselves that the weight of these two characters will ensure 
our success, but the event is not absolutely certain. Yesterday 


a committee was appointed, on the motion of a doubtful charac 
ter, to consider the propositions of Mr. Hancock, and to report 
to-morrow afternoon. We have a majority of federalists on 
this committee, and flatter ourselves the result will be favor 

"P. S. We shall probably decide on thursday or friday next, 
when our numbers will amount to about 363." 

With greatest esteem and attachment, I am, D r Sir, your obt 
and affect 6 serv 1 . 


NEW YORK, February 15. 1788. 

DEAR SIR, I have at length the pleasure to enclose you the 
favorable result of the Convention at Boston. The amend 
ments are a blemish, but are in the least offensive form. The 
minority, also, is very disagreeably large, but the temper of 
it is some atonement. I am assured by Mr. King that the lead 
ers of it, as well as the members of it in general, are in good 
humor, and will countenance no irregular opposition, there or 
elsewhere. The Convention of New Hampshire is now sitting. 
There seems to be no question that the issue there will add a 
seventh pillar, as the phrase now is, to the federal Temple. 

With the greatest respect and attachment, I am, Dear Sir, 


NEW YORK, February 19th, 1788. 

DEAR SIR, * * * * * * 
The public here continues to be much agitated by the pro 
posed federal Constitution, and to be attentive to little else. 
At the date of my last, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jer 
sey, had adopted it. It has been since adopted by Connecticut, 

1788. LETTERS. 377 

Georgia, and Massachusetts. In the first, the minority con 
sisted of 40 against 127. In Georgia, the adoption was unani 
mous. In Massachusetts, the conflict was tedious and the event 
extremely doubtful. On the final question the vote stood 187 
against 168, a majority of 19 only being in favor of the Consti 

The prevailing party comprized, however, all the men of abil 
ities, of property, and of influence. In the opposite multitude 
there was not a single character capable of uniting their wills 
or directing their measures. It was made up, partly of depu 
ties from the province of Maine, who apprehended difficulties 
from the new Government to their scheme of separation, partly 
of men who had espoused the disaffection of Shay s, and partly 
of ignorant and jealous men, who had been taught, or had fan 
cied, that the Convention at Philadelphia had entered into a 
conspiracy against the liberties of the people at large, in order 
to erect an aristocracy for the rich, the well born, and the men 
of Education. They had no plan whatever. They looked no 
farther than to put a negative on the Constitution and return 
home. The amendments, as recommended by the Convention, 
were, as I am well informed, not so much calculated for the mi 
nority in the Convention, on whom they had little effect, as for 
the people of the State. You will find the amendments in the 
newspapers which are sent from the office of foreign affairs. It 
appears, from a variety of circumstances, that disappointment 
had produced no asperity in the minority, and that they will 
probably not only acquiesce in the event, but endeavour to rec 
oncile their constituents to it. This was the public declaration 
of several who were called the leaders of the party. 

The minority of Connecticut behaved with equal moderation. 
That of Pennsylvania has been extremely intemperate, and con 
tinues to use a very bold and menacing language. Had the 
decision in Massachusetts been adverse to the Constitution, it 
is not improbable that some very violent measures would have 
followed in that State. The cause of the inflammation, how 
ever, is much more in their State factions than in the system 
proposed by the Convention. New Hampshire is now deliber- 

378 WORKS OF MADISON. 1788. 

ating on the Constitution. It is generally understood that an 
adoption is a matter of certainty. South Carolina and Mary 
land have fixed on April or May for their Conventions. The 
former, it is currently said, will be one of the ratifying States. 
Mr. Chase, and a few others, will raise a considerable opposi 
tion in the latter. But the weight of personal influence is on 
the side of the Constitution, and the present expectation is, 
that the opposition will be outnumbered by a great majority. 
This State is much divided in its sentiments. Its Convention 
is to be held in June. The decision of Massachusetts will give 
the turn in favor of the Constitution, unless an idea should pre 
vail, or the fact should appear, that the voice of the State is 
opposed to the result of its Convention. North Carolina has 
put off her Convention till July. The State is much divided, it 
is said. 

The temper of Virginia, as far as I can learn, has undergone 
but little change of late. At first, there was an enthusiasm for 
the Constitution. The tide next took a sudden and strong turn 
in the opposite direction. The influence and exertions of Mr. 
Henry and Col. Mason, and some others, will account for this. 
Subsequent information again represented the Constitution as 
regaining, in some degree, its lost ground. The people at large 
have been uniformly said to be more friendly to the Constitu 
tion than the Assembly. But it is probable that the dispersion 
of the latter will have a considerable influence on the opinions 
of the former. The previous adoption of nine States must have 
a very persuasive effect on the minds of the opposition, though 
I am told that a very bold language is held by Mr. Henry and 
some of his partizans. Great stress is laid on the self-sufficiency 
of that State, and the prospect of external props is alluded to. 

Congress have done no business of consequence yet, nor is it 
probable that much more of any sort will precede the event of 
the great question before the public. 

The Assembly of Virginia have passed the district Bill, of 
which I formerly gave you an account. There are 18 districts, 
with 4 new Judges, Mr. Gabriel Jones, Richard Parker, S* 
George Tucker, and Jo 8 . Prentis. They have reduced much the 

1788. LETTERS. 379 

taxes, and provided some indulgences for debtors. The ques 
tion of British debts underwent great vicissitudes. It was, after 
long discussion, resolved by a majority of 30, against the utmost 
exertions of Mr. Henry, that they should be paid as soon as the 
other States should have complied with the Treaty. A few days 
afterwards he carried his point by a majority of 50, that Great 
Britain should first comply. 

Adieu. Y rs affect 7 . 

P. S. Mr. St. John has given me a very interesting descrip 
tion of a " System of Nature," lately published at Paris. Will 
you add it for me ? 


NEW YORK, February 20, 1788. 

DEAR SIR, I am just favored with yours of the 7th instant, 
and will attend to your wishes as to the political essays in the 

I have given notice to my friends in Orange that the County 
may command my services in the Convention if it pleases. I 
can say with great truth, however, that in this overture I sac 
rifice every private inclination to considerations not of a selfish 
nature. I foresee that the undertaking will involve me in very 
laborious and irksome discussions; that public opposition to 
several very respectable characters, whose esteem and friend 
ship I greatly prize, may unintentionally endanger the subsist 
ing connection; and that disagreeable misconstructions, of 
which samples have been already given, may be the fruit of 
those exertions which fidelity will impose. But I have made 
up my determination on the subject; and if I am informed that 
my presence at the election in the County be indispensable, 
shall submit to that condition also; although it is my particular 
wish to decline it, as well to avoid apparent solicitude on the 
occasion as a journey of such length at a very unpleasant 


I had seen the extract of your letter to Col. Carter, and had 
supposed, from the place where it first made its appearance, 
that its publication was the effect of the zeal of a correspond 
ent. I cannot but think, on the whole, that it may have been 
of service, notwithstanding the scandalous misinterpretations 
of it which have been attempted. As it has evidently the air 
of a paragraph to a familiar friend, the omission of an argument 
ative support of the opinion given will appear to no candid 
reader unnatural or improper. 

We have no late information from Europe except through 
the English papers, which represent the affairs of France as in 
the most ticklish state. The facts have every appearance of 
authenticity, and we wait with great impatience for the packet 
which is daily expected. It can be little doubted that the pa 
triots have been abandoned, whether from impotency in France, 
misconduct in them, or from what other cause, is not altogether 
clear. The French apologists are visibly embarrassed by the 
dilemma of submitting to the appearance of either weakness or 
the want of faith. They seem generally to allege that their en 
gagements being with the Republic, the nation could not oppose 
the regular authority of the country by supporting a single 
province, or, perhaps, a party in it only. The validity of this 
excuse will depend much on the real connection between France 
and the patriots, and the assurances given as an encouragement 
to the latter. From the British King s speech, it would seem 
that France had avowed her purpose of supporting her Dutch 
friends, though it is possible her menaces to England might be 
carried further than her real promises to the patriots. All 
these circumstances, however, must have galled the pride of 
France, and I have little doubt that a war will prove it as soon 
as her condition will admit of it; perhaps she may be the sooner 
forced into it on account of her being in a contrary situation. 

I hear nothing yet from the Convention of New Hampshire. 

I remain, yours most respectfully and affectionately, 

1788. LETTERS. 381 


NEW YORK, Feb* 21st. 1788. 

DEAR SIR * * * * * 

Your representation of the politics of the State coincides 
with the information from every other quarter. Great fluctu 
ations and divisions of opinion naturally result in Virginia from 
the causes which you describe, but they are not the less ominous 
on that account. I have, for some time, been persuaded that 
the question on which the proposed Constitution must turn is 
the simple one, whether the Union shall or shall not be contin 
ued. There is, in my opinion, no middle ground to be taken. 
The opposition with some has disunion assuredly for its object, 
and with all for its real tendency. 

Events have demonstrated that no coalition can ever take 
place in favor of a new plan among the adversaries to the pro 
posed one. The grounds of objection among the non-signing 
members of the Convention are by no means the same. The 
disapproving members who were absent, but who have since 
published their objections, differ irreconcileably from each of 
them. The writers against the Constitution are as little agreed 
with one another; and the principles which have been disclosed 
by the several minorities, where the Constitution has not been 
unanimously adopted, are as heterogeneous as can be imagined. 
That of Massachusetts, as far as I can learn, was averse to any 
Government that deserved the name, and, it is certain, looked 
no farther than to reject the Constitution in toto and return 
home in triumph. The men of abilities, of property, of char 
acter, with every judge, lawyer of eminence, and the clergy of 
all sects, were, with scarce an exception deserving notice, as 
unanimous in that State as the same description of characters 
are divided and opposed to one another in Virginia. This con 
trast does not arise from circumstances of local interest, but 
from causes which will, in my opinion, produce much regret 
hereafter in the opponents in Virginia, if they should succeed 
in their opposition. 

New Hampshire is now in Convention. It is expected that 

382 WORKS OF MADISON. 1788, 

the result will be in favor of the Constitution. Rhode Island 
takes no notice of the matter. New York is much divided. 
The weight of abilities and of property is on the side of the 
Constitution. She must go with the Eastern States, let the di 
rection be what it may. By a vessel just from Charleston, we 
understand that opposition will be made there. Mr. Lowndes 
is the leader of it. 

A British packet brings a picture of affairs in France which 
indicates some approaching events in that Kingdom, which may 
almost amount to a Revolution in the form of its Government. 
The authority is in itself suspicious; but it coincides with a 
variety of proofs that the spirit of liberty has made a progress 
which must lead to some remarkable conclusion of the scene. 
The Dutch patriots seem to have been the victims, partly of 
their own folly, and partly of something amiss in their friends. 
The present state of that Confederacy is, or ought to be, a very 
emphatic lesson to the United States. The want of union and 
a capable Government is the source of all their calamities, and 
particularly of that dependence on foreign powers which is as 
dishonorable to their character as it is destructive of their 


NEW YORK, March 3d, 1788. 

DEAR SIR, The Convention of New Hampshire have disap 
pointed much the general expectation. Instead of adopting the 
Constitution, they have adjourned, without any final decision, 
until June, this expedient being found necessary to prevent a 
rejection. It seems that a majority of three or four members 
would have voted in the negative, but in this majority were a 
number who had been proselyted by the discussions, but were 
bound by positive instructions. These concurred with the fed 
eralists in the adjournment, and carried it by a majority of fifty- 
seven against forty-seven. It is not much doubted that, in the 
event, New Hampshire will be among the adopting States. But 

1788. LETTERS. 383 

the influence of this check will be very considerable in this State, 
(New York,) and in several others. I have enquired whether 
June was preferred for the second meeting from any reference 
to Virginia or New York, and am informed that it was merely 
an accommodation to the intermediate annual elections and 


NEW YORK, March 3, 1788. 

DEAR SIR, The Convention of New Hampshire has afforded 
a very disagreeable subject of communication. It has not re 
jected the Constitution, but it has failed to adopt it. Contrary 
to all calculations that had been made, it appeared, on a meeting 
of the members, that a majority of three or four was adverse to 
the object before them, and that, on a final question on the merits, 
the decision would be in the negative. In this critical state of 
things, the federalists thought it best to attempt an adjournment; 
and having proselyted some of the members who were positively 
instructed against the Constitution, the attempt succeeded by 
a majority of 57 against 47, if my information as to the num 
bers be correct. It seems to be fully expected that some of the 
instructed members will prevail on their towns to unfetter 
them, and that, in the event, New Hampshire will be among the 
adopting States. The mischief elsewhere will, in the mean time, 
be of a serious nature. The second meeting is to be in June. 
This circumstance will probably be construed in Virginia as 
making contemporary arrangements with her. It is explained 
to me, however, as having reference merely to the conveniency 
of the members, whose attendance at their annual elections and 
courts would not consist with an earlier period. The opposi 
tion, I understand, is composed precisely of the same descrip 
tion of characters with that of Massachusetts, and stands con 
trasted to all the wealth, abilities, and respectability of the 

384 WOHKS OF MADISON. 1788. 

I am preparing to set out for Orange, and promise myself the 
pleasure of taking Mount Yernon in the way. 

I remain, yours most respectfully and affectionately. 


ORANGE. April 10, 1788. 

DEAR SIR, Having seen a part only of the names returned 
for the Convention, and being unacquainted with the political 
characters of many of them, I am a very incompetent prophet 
of the fate of the Constitution. My hopes, however, are much 
encouraged by my present conjectures. Those who have more 
data for their calculations than I have augur a flattering issue 
to the deliberations of June. I find that Col. Nicholas, who is 
among the best judges, thinks, on the whole, that a majority in 
the Convention will be on the list of federalists ; but very 
properly takes into view the turn that may be given to the 
event by the weight of Kentucky, if thrown into the wrong 
scale, and by the proceedings of Maryland and South Carolina, 
if they should terminate in either a rejection or postponement 
of the question. The impression on Kentucky, like that on the 
rest of the State, was at first answerable to our wishes; but, as 
elsewhere, the torch of discord has been thrown in, and Iras 
found the materials but too inflammable. I have written seve 
ral letters since my arrival to correspondents in that district, 
with a view to counteract anti-federal machinations. I have 
little expectation, however, that they will have much effect, 
unless the communications that may go from Mr. Brown in 
Congress should happen to breathe the same spirit; and I am 
not without apprehensions that his mind may have taken an 
unlucky tincture from the difficulties thrown in the way of the 
separation of the District, as well as from some antecedent pro 
ceedings of Congress. I have taken the liberty of writing, also, 
to a friend in South Carolina, on the critical importance of a 

1788. LETTERS. 385 

right decision there to a favorable one here. The enclosed 
letter, which I leave unsealed, will shew you that I am doing 
the same with respect to Maryland. Will you be so good as to 
put a wafer in it, and send it to the post office for Georgetown, 
or to change the address to Annapolis, if you should have 
reason to conclude that Mr. Carroll will be there? I have 
written a similar letter to Doctor McHenry. The difference 
between even a postponement and adoption in Maryland may, 
in the nice balance of parties here, possibly give a fatal advan 
tage to that which opposes the Constitution. 

I have done nothing yet in preparing answers to the queries. 
As facts arc to be ascertained, as well as opinions formed, delny 
will be of course counted upon- 

With every sentiment of respect and attachment, I remain, 
Dear Sir, your ob fc and humble ser*. 


ORANGE, Ap 1 10th, 1788. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I view the amendments of Massachusetts 
pretty nearly in the same light that you do. They were meant 
for the people at large, not for the minority in the Convention. 
The latter were not affected by them, their objections being- 
levelled against the very essence of the proposed Government. 
I do not see that the 2 d amendment, if I understand its scope, 
can be more exceptionable to the Southern States than the 
others. I take it to mean that the number of Representatives 
shall be limited to two hundred, who will be apportioned from 
time to time according to a census; not that the apportionment 
first made, when the Representatives amount to that number, 
shall be perpetual. The 9 th amendment, I have understood, was 
made a very serious point of by S. Adams. 

I do not know of anything in the new Constitution that can 
change the obligations of the public with regard to the old 
money. The principle on which it is to be settled seems to be 

VOL. i. 25 


equally in the power of that as of the existing one. The claim 
of the Indiana Company cannot, I should suppose, be any more 
validated by the new system than that of all the creditors and 
others who have been aggrieved by unjust laws. You do not 
mention what part of the Constitution could give colour to such 
a doctrine. The condemnation of retrospective laws, if that be 
the part, does not appear to me to admit, on any principle, of 
such a retrospective construction. As to the religious test, I 
should conceive that it can imply at most nothing more than 
that, without that exception, a power would have been given to 
impose an oath, involving a religious test as a qualification for 
office. The constitution of necessary offices being given to the 
Congress, the proper qualifications seem to be evidently in 
volved. I think, too, there are several other satisfactory points 
of view in which the exception might be placed. 

I shall be extremely happy to see a coalition among all the 
real federalists. Recommendatory alterations are the only 
ground that occurs to me. A conditional ratification or a 
second Convention appears to me utterly irreconcileable, in the 
present state of things, with the dictates of prudence and 
safety. I am confirmed by a comparative view of the publica 
tions on the subject, and still more of the debates in the several 
Conventions, that a second experiment would be either wholly 
abortive, or would end in something much more remote from 
your ideas, and those of others who wish a salutary Govern 
ment, than the plan now before the public. It is to be consid 
ered, also, that besides the local and personal pride that would 
stand in the way, it could not be a very easy matter to bring 
about a reconsideration and rescision of what will certainly 
have been done in six, and probably eight States, and in several 
of them by unanimous votes. Add to all this the extreme 
facility with which those who secretly aim at disunion (and 
there are probably some such in most, if not all the States) will 
be able to carry on their schemes, under the mask of contend 
ing for alterations, popular in some places, and known to be 
inadmissible in others. Every danger of this sort might be 
justly dreaded from such men as this State and New York only 

1788. LETTERS. 387 

could furnish, playing for such a purpose into each other s 1 
hands. The declaration of Henry, mentioned in your letter, is 
a proof to me that desperate measures will be his game. If 
report does not more than usually exaggerate, Mason, also, is 
ripening fast for going every length. His licentiousness of 
animadversion, it is said, no longer spares even the moderate 
opponents of the Constitution. 


ORANGE, April 22d, 1788. 

DEAR SIR * * * * * 

The proposed Constitution still engrosses the public atten 
tion. The elections for the Convention here are but just over 
and promulged. From the returns, (excepting those from Ken 
tucky, which are not yet known,) it seems probable, though not 
absolutely certain., that a majority of the members elect are 
friends to the Constitution. The superiority of abilities, at 
least, seems to lie on that side. The characters of most note 
which occur to me are marshaled thus : For the Constitution, 
Pendletori, Wythe, Blair, Innes, Marshall, Doctor W. Jones, G. 
Nicholas, Wilson Nicholas, Gab 1 Jones, Thomas Lewis, F. Cor- 
bin, Ralph Wormley, Jr., White of Frederick, General Gates, 
General A. Stephens, Archibald Stuart, Zach 7 Johnson, Doctor 
Stuart, Parson Andrews, H. Lee, Jr., Bushrod Washington, con 
sidered as a young gentleman of talents; against the Consti 
tution, Mr. Henry, Mason, Harrison, Grayson, Tyler, M. Smith, 
W. Ronald, Lawson, Bland, Win. Cabell, Dawson. 

The Governor is so temperate in his opposition, and goes so 
far with the friends of the Constitution, that he cannot properly 
be classed with its enemies. Monroe is considered by some as 
an enemy, but I believe him to be a friend. There are other 
individuals of weight whose opinions are unknown to me. R. 
H. Lee is not elected. His brother, F. L. Lee, is a warm friend 
to the Constitution, as I am told; but, also, is not elected. So 
are John and Mann Page. 

388 WORKS OF MADISON. 1788. 

The adversaries take very different grounds of opposition. 
Some are opposed to the substance of the plan; others, to par 
ticular modifications only. Mr. Henry is supposed to aim at 
disunion. Col. Mason is growing every day more bitter and 
outrageous in his efforts to carry his point, and will probably, 
in the end, be thrown by the violence of his passions into the 
politics of Mr. Henry. The preliminary question will be, 
whether previous alterations shall be insisted on or not. 
Should this be carried in the affirmative, either a conditional 
ratification or a proposal for a new Convention will ensue. In 
either event, I think the Constitution and the Union will be 
both endangered. It is not to be expected that the States which 
have ratified will reconsider their determinations, and submit to 
the alterations prescribed by Virginia. And if a second Con 
vention should be formed, it is as little to be expected that the 
same spirit of compromise will prevail in it as produced an 
amicable result to the first. It will be easy, also, for those who 
have latent views of disunion, to carry them on under the mask 
of contending for alterations, popular in some, but inadmissible 
in other parts of the United States. 

The real sense of the people of this State cannot be easily as 
certained. They are certainly attached, and with warmth, to a 
continuance of the Union, and I believe a large majority of the 
most intelligent and independent are equally so to the plan 
under consideration. On a geographical view of them, almost 
all the Counties in the Northern Neck have elected federal 
deputies. The Counties on the South side of James River have 
pretty generally elected adversaries to the Constitution. The 
intermediate district is much chequered in this respect. The 
Counties between the blue ridge and the Alleghany have chosen 
friends to the Constitution, without a single exception. Those 
westward of the latter have, as I am informed, generally though 
not universally, pursued the same rule. Kentucky it is supposed 
will be divided. 

Having been in Virginia but a few weeks, I can give you lit 
tle account of other matters, and none of your private affairs or 
connections, particularly of your two nephews. 


The winter here, as everywhere else in the United States, was 
very severe, which, added to short crops of corn, threatened a 
great scarcity and a high price. It is found, however, that 
neither of these evils has taken place. Corn may be purchased 
for 2 dollars, and even 10s. per barrel. Tobacco is as low at 
Fredericksburg as 18s. pr c., and not higher at Richmond than 
22 or 23s. There is at present a very promising spring, espe 
cially in the article of fruit. The night before last was so cold 
as to produce an alarm for the vegetation of all sorts, but it 
does not appear that anything less vulnerable than young cu 
cumbers had been injured. 

I shall ask the favor of Mr. Griffin to send you by Mr. Para 
dise, or if he should be gone by some other hand, the Debates 
of the Conventions in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, and any 
other publications worth your reading. 

I am, dear sir, your affectionate friend and serv 1 . 


Examples shewing defect of mere Confederacies. 

Amphictyonic League. See 

Lycian do. 

Achaean do. 

German do. 

Swiss do. 

Belgic do. 

United Colonies. See 

Albany project. See Albany papers. 

Articles of Confederation. See 

Hanseatic do. 

Union of Calmar do. 

England and Scotland formed in 1706, by 32 Commissioners 


appointed for each Kingdom; they sat from April 18th to mid 
dle of July; they were appointed by crown, by acts of two par 
liaments; restrained from treating of Religion. 

The Scotch had got the notion of a federal Union, like Hol 
land and Switzerland. England opposed decidedly; among 
other reasons, because of different Parliaments; either could 
break it when pleased. 

Many had despaired of Union, as Bur net himself. 

In Scotland, opposed violently, particularly by those who 
were for a new revolution, as Union fatal bar to it; carried in 
parliament by inconsiderable majority. The prcsbyterians 
brought into opposition by persuasion that religious rights 
would be in danger; this argument used most by those known 
to be most adverse to that Religion, especially Dutchess of 
Hamilton and Son, who, as next in succession, hoped for Crown, 
if separate Kingdom. 

General arguments against Union in Scotland: 

1. Antiquity and dignity of Kingdom to be given up and 

2. Departing from independent State, and to be swallowed 
by Eng d . 

3. Would be outvoted in all questions by Eng d s superiority 
in ParF.* 

4. Scotland no more be regarded by foreign nations. 

5. Danger to the Kirk. 

Finally, Scotch parliament prevailed on to annex conditions 
which advisers thought would never be agreed to, and thus the 
plan be defeated. 

Opposers of Union, finding majority against them, endeav 
oured to raise a storm out of doors; petitions, addresses, and 
remonstrances came up from all quarters, instigated by minority; 
even riots excited about parliament House. 

In England, alarm also for Religion, and act passed to secure 
it. House of Commons unanimous; Lords, 50 and 20. 

* Above 30,000 voters in some Counties of Eng d ; 33,000 only in all Scotland. 
Dalrymple F. P. 


Writ of error lies from B. R., in Ireland, to B. R., in Eng d . 

Do. do., from Wales to B. R. Jenkins Cent., and 1 
W. and M., c. 27. 

As to Scotland into Parliament, see 6 Ann., c. 26, sect. 12. 

Difficulty of drawing line between laws apparent in Act of 
Union between Eng d and Scotland. 

"Art. 18. The laws concerning regulation of trade, Customs, 
&c. See abridgm* by Cay., vol. 2, 384, under Scotland." For 
line between Courts, see Art. 19. 


Two remarkable circumstances: 1. Citizens elect by votes the 
multiples of their property; some rich merchants have several 
hundred votes. 2. Country gentlemen, between nobles and 
peasants, have no votes in electing the latter order; are not 
represented nor eligible at all. Constitution, prior to 1772, al 
ternately Monarchical and aristocratic. Foreign powers had 
chief agency in producing the Revolution of 1772. The King 
had, about that time, only two companies of guards; [power 
of King reduced to its lowest ebb about the time of the Revo 
lution. Sheridan.] [The power of peasants predominant origi 
nally; hence alternate anarchy and tyranny. Id.] On death of 
Charles XII, all prerogatives of Executive abolished; hence 
legislative soon exercised Executive and Judicial power both; 
any 3 out of 4 houses competent to legislation. The Revolution 
of 72, owing to unpopularity of diet, owing to abuse of power 
from union of Executive and Judicial with Legislative, factions, 
venality, and foreign influence. The people favoured the enter- 
prize of the King. 


The change in 1660, produced by the aversion to the nobility, 
who, as feudal lords, had almost all power, the peasants being 
slaves to them; the two other orders being the clergy and com 
mons or representatives of towns. The Clergy were the great 

392 WORKS OF MADISON. 1788. 

agents in the Revolution, and the King rather passive. Lord 
Molesworth saith Denmark differed little from an aristocracy 
when it become an absolute Monarchy. 


The 3 d estate was composed, according to Robertson, of Rep 
resentatives of Cities, <fec., within the King s demesne only; and 
the tillers of the earth, the greatest body in all countries, noth 
ing, or represented by the Nobles. 


Peasants never represented in Cortes. Quere. 

153 Senators; about 200 Nuncios. 

Examples of hostile consequences of rival communities not 
united by one Government. 

All the antient and modern Confederacies. 

Saxon Heptarchy. ( a ) England and Scotland.( b ) G. B. and 
Ireland. England and Wales. Antient Republics of Italy be 
fore Roman Empire. Ditto after dissolution of ditto. 

Union at Calmar in 1393 7, of Sweden, Denmark, and Nor 
way, formed by Margaret, Queen of the two last, and elected, 
also, Queen of the former. She convoked the deputies of the 3 

( a ) [Anno 827.] "Thus were united all the Kingdoms of the Heptarchy in 
one great State, near four hundred years after 1 st arrival of Saxons in Britain, 
[and 250 after establishment ;] and the fortunate arms, &c., of Egbert. [King of 
Wessex,] at last effected what had been so often attempted in vain by so many 
Princes." Hume, Vol. 1, p. 59. "Kent, Northumberland, and Mercia, had suc 
cessively aspired to general dominion." Id., p. 60. 

( b ) Question in 1713 in House of Lords for dissolving Union as not answering, 
and ruinous to Scotland. Carried in negative by 4 voices only. Deb. Peers, 11, 
313 ; Burg.. 3, SCO. Harrington (pol. Aphorisms. 49, 50, 51, page 517) pronounced 
the Union destructive to both England and Scotland. Heptarchy reduced to 
two after some ages, Mercia and W. Saxons ; and then one, (Egbert.) England 
and Wales prior to Union under Edward I, and more fully under H. VIII. See 
Kennet, vol. 1, page 37, for an apt and short quotation as to Heptarchy. 


States General at Calmar; 40 from each attended and formed 
the Union of Treaty; main argument used by the Queen the 
contentions and wars when disunited. 

Union consisted of three principal articles: 

1 . That the three Kingdoms, which was each elective, should 
have the same King, to be elected by turns out of each, with an 
exception, however, in favour of offspring whom the three States 
might elect. 

2. The King to divide his residence by turns among each, 
and to spend in each the revenues of each Crown. 

3. The most important, that each should keep its particular 
Senate, customs, privileges, Governments, magistrates, Gene 
rals, Bishops, and even troops and garrisons, to be taken from 
respective Kingdoms, so that the King should never be allowed 
to employ subjects of one in another, being mutually regarded 
as strangers. 

This Union, thus imperfect, increased their mutual animosity, 
and laid the foundation for fresh and more bitter animosities 
and miseries. 

Examples of invasions of defenceless coasts. Danger if dis 
united: 1. Of foreign invasion by sea. 2. Of Eastern invasion 
on S. States. Such more formidable than by land, because more 
sudden and easily supported by supplies. 

Romans invade England. Egyptians and Phoenicians in- 

( a ) Saxons invade England. vade Greece. 
Danes do Greece do Italy. 
Normans do Carthaginians do Italy and 

( b ) Danes do France. Spain. 

English. Ireland. Visigoths from Spain. Bar- 

Europeans. America. bary. 

Do East Indies. 

Do Africa. 

Countries without Navy conquerable in proportion to extent 
of coast. England more frequently and thoroughly conquered 
than France or Spain. 

() See Hume Hist., vol. 1. ( b ) Do., vol. 1, p. G9 70. 

394 WORKS OF MADISON. 1733. 


2 Kings, ) The two jointly forming a council, with 

28 Senators. f power of life and death. 
Senate. 1. For life. 

2. Vacancies filled by popular election, out of candidates 60 
years old. 

3. Had right of convoking and proposing to Assemblies; as 
had Kings.* 

4. Decrees of no force till ratified by people. 

Kings were for life; in other respects like 2 Consuls; Gene 
rals during war; presided in Assemblies and public sacrifices in 
peace; could propose to Assemblies; dissolve them when con 
voked by Kings; but could do nothing without consent of the 
nation; the 2 Kings always jealous, and on ill terms with each 
other; were watched by field deputies in war. 


Assemblies general and particular; former of all Citizens, 
latter of Citizens of Sparta alone; had power of peace and war, 
treaties, great affairs, and election of magistrates. 

Ephori, chosen annually by the people, and concurred in their 
behalf with Kings and Senate; over both when they had au 

They had more authority than Tribunes; presided at elections 
of Magistrates; demanded account of the administration; could 
imprison Kings; had the administration of money; superintended 
Religion; in fine, directed everything. 

Lands divided in 39,000 shares. 


500 years, says Aristotle, without any considerable sedition 
or tyrant. 3 different authorities Seffetes, Senate, people. 

Seffetes, like consuls, and annual; does not appear by whom 
chosen; assembled Senate, presiding; proposing and collecting 

* Usurped this right. 


the votes; presided, also, in judgments of most important affairs, 
sometimes commanded armies; at going out were made Pretors. 

Senate, composed of persons qualified by age, experience, 
birth, riches; were the Council of State, and the soul of all 
public deliberation; number not known; must have been great, 
since the 100 drawn out of it. Senate treated of great affairs, 
read letters of Generals, rec d plaints of provinces, gave au 
diences to ambassadors, and decided peace and war. When 
Senate unanimous, decided finally; in case of division, people 
decided. Whilst Senate retained its authority, says Polybius, 
wisdom and success marked everything. 

People, at first, gave way to Senate; at length, intoxicated 
by wealth and conquests, they assumed all power; then cabals 
and factions prevailed, and were one of the principal causes of 
the ruin of the State. 

Tribunal of 100, composed of 104 persons, were in place of 
Ephori, at Sparta, according to Aristotle, and instituted to 
balance the Generals and the Senate; with this difference, that 
here the Council was perpetual: Generals accounted to them. 

Tribunal of 5, taken out of 100 above; duration of office 
unknown; like the Council of 10 at Venice; filled vacancies, 
even in Senate; had great power, but no salaries; became 


* Gracchi transferred Power f Senate > (exclusive of People): 
the criminal jurisdiction 1. Care of Religion. 2. To regulate the 

to equestrian order. n ?- r\ IT i 

provinces. 3.* Over public treasury and 
expences of Government, with appointment of stipends to Gen 
erals; number of troops, and provisions and cloathing for 

t Ambassadors taken armieS 4 -+ Appointed with such instruc- 

from their own body. tions, and received ambassadors, and gave 
such answers as they thought fit, 5. De 
creed thanksgivings and conferred honor of triumphs. 6. En 
quire into crimes and treasons at Rome and in Italy, and decide 
disputes among dependent cities. 7. Interpreting, dispensing 
with, and even abrogating laws. 8. Arm consuls with absolute 

396 WORKS OF MADISON. 1788. 

power, darent operam, &c. 9. Prorogue and postpone assem 
blies of people; pardon and reward; declared any one enemy. 
Middleton on R. Sen. 

Power of Senate to propose to people who could not origin 
ate laws this taken away by the Tribunes and Senate not 
only obliged to allow assemblies at all times to be called, but 
to agree beforehand to whatever acts of the people. Idem. 

Power of Senate unlimited almost at first except legislative 
power choice of Magistrates and peace and war all power in 
Senate and a second Senatus consultum is necessary to ratify 
act of people in consequence of proposition from Senate. Code 
d Hum. 

Senate consisted originally of 100 usually about 300 final 
ly, by Jul. Ca3sar, 1,000 not agreed how appointed whether 
by consuls and censors or people, &c. ; on extraordinary occa 
sions by Dictator censors on ordinary, (Middleton,) by people 
out of annual Magistrates, till there become a regular supply of 
course. Middleton. Censors could expel; but other Censors 
reinstate; and Senators had an appeal from them to people. 

Vertot thinks people had nothing to do in appointing Sena 
tors; power being first in Kings, then Consuls, then Censors, 
and on extraordinary occasions in Dictator; age required but 
not ascertained by antiquaries ; so estate between 6 and 
7,000 sterling; Senate assembled by Kings, Consuls, Dictators, 

1. Heads of Republic. 2. Command of 

Power of Consuls. 

Armies, levy troops in consequence of au 
thority from comitia. 3. Authority over Italy and provinces, 
who could appeal to the tribunal, and could cite subjects to 
Rome, and punish with death. 4. Convene Senate, propose 
business, count votes, and draw up decrees; nor could any reso 
lution pass if one of the Consuls opposed. 5. Addressed letters 
to Kings, &c.; gave audience to Ambassadors; introduced them 
to Senate; and carried into execution decrees touching all these 
matters. 6. Convoked Comitia; presided therein. 7. Applied 
money. Had all the power of the Kings; must be 42 years. 


Uncertain whether at first 2, 3, or 5; 
established in 260; increased to 10 in 297. 
confined to city and one mile; at first had no power but to 
defend people, their persons being sacred for that purpose but 
soon arrogated right to call senate and Assembly of people 
and propose to them. 

They were 1. Protectors of people; under which title they 
interfered in all affairs released malefactors, and imprisoned 
principal Magistrates of Republic, as Consuls, and after a time 
exerted their authority over dictators and censors (2.) Had 
the veto to stop the functions of all other Magistrates, and to 
negative all laws and decrees of the Senate to dissolve comitia, 
so that Republic often in anarchy, and once 5 years without 
other Magistrates than Tribunes by this veto, particularly as 
opposed to levies of men by order of Senate, they extorted 
everything they wanted. (3.) Sacredness of persons, of which 
they availed themselves much pretending that it was violated 
in the persons of their officers. (4.) To convoke Senate and 
people; at first set at door of Senate waiting to be informed of 
result of its deliberations, and had no right to assemble people 
but Junius Brutus caught at incautious acknowledgment of 
Consul, got comit. tribut. established in place of centuries j 
where votes unequal and of curiata, where, as in centuries 
auspices necessary, and in both concurrence of Senate to the 
calling them and coming to Resolutions. To these they soon 
brought trial of principal citizens by appeal, and all sorts of 
affairs; got plebians voters; made laws by com. trib., which 
hey managed and ordered as they pleased.* (5.) Disposed of 
Governm ts and commands of Armies, finances, and lands of 
the public; Sylla, as Dictator, humbled the Tribunes, but they 
were restored, and Jul. Cassar caused himself to be perpetual 
Tribune ; the shadow continued down to Constantine the 

Roman Empire more than 2,000 m. from N. to S., more than 

* It appears that it was the design of Clodius to extend the suffrage to all the 
freedmen in the several tribes of the city, that the Tribunes might, by corrup 
tion, the more easily ferment seditions. Cicero s Milo. 

398 WORKS OF MADISON. 1788. 

3,000 from W. to E. Gibbon. Population of do. about 120 
millions, including slaves about J; this more than in Europe. 

Spain, 700 by 500 miles. England, 360 by 300. 

France, 600 by 500 " Scotland, 300 by 150. 

Italy, 600 by 400 " Denmark, 240 by 180. 

Germany, 600 by 500 " Norway, 1,000 by 900. 

Poland, 700 by 680 " 

Sweden, 800 by 500 " 


RICHMOND, June 4, 1788. 

DEAR SIR, Your favor of the 2 ult was not received til my 
arrival here on Monday evening. I found, contrary to my ex 
pectation, that not only a very full house had been made on the 
first day, but that it had proceeded to the appointment of the 
President and other officers. Mr. Pendleton was put into the 
chair without opposition. Yesterday, little more was done than 
settling some forms, and Resolving that no question, general or 
particular, should be propounded til the whole plan should be 
considered and debated, clause by clause. This was moved by 
Col. Mason, and, contrary to his expectations, concurred in by 
the other side. To-day, the discussions commenced in Commit 
tee of the whole. The Governor has declared the day of pre 
vious amendments passed, and thrown himself fully into the fed 
eral scale. Henry and Mason made a lame figure, and appeared 
to take different and awkward ground. The federalists are a 
good deal elated by the existing prospect. I dare not, however, 
speak with certainty as to the decision. Kentucky has been 
extremely tainted, is supposed to be generally adverse, and 
every piece of address is going on privately to work on the 
local interests and prejudices of that and other quarters. 
In haste, I am, D r Sir, yrs affect 7 . 

1788. LETTERS. 399 


RICHMOND, June 13, 1788. 

DEAR SIR, Your favor of came to hand by the mail 

of Wednesday. I did not write by several late returns for two 
reasons: one, the improbability of your having got back to Mount 
Yernon; the other, a bilious indisposition, which confined me 
for several days. I am again tolerably well recovered. 

Appearances at present are less favorable than at the date 
of my last. Our progress is slow, and every advantage is taken 
of the delay to work on the local prejudices of particular sets 
of members. British debts, the Indiana claim, and the Missis 
sippi, are the principal topics of private discussion and intrigue, 
as well as of public declamation. The members who have 
served in Congress have been dragged into communications on 
the last, which could not be justifiable on any other occasion, 
if on the present. There is reason to believe that the event 
may depend on the Kentucky members, who seem to lean more 
against than in favor of the Constitution. The business is in 
the most ticklish state that can be imagined. The majority will 
certainly be very small, on whatever side it may finally lie; and 
I dare not encourage much expectation that it will be on the 
favorable side. 

Oswald, of Philadelphia, has been here with letters for the 
anti-federal leaders from New York, and probably Philadelphia. 
He staid a very short time here, during which he was occasion 
ally closeted with H y, M-s-n, <fcc. I learn from New York 

that the elections have proved adverse to the Constitution. 
Y" affect y . 



RICHMOND, June IS, 1788. 

DEAR SIR, No question, direct or indirect, has yet been 
taken by which the state of parties could be determined. Of 
course, each is left to enjoy the hopes resulting from its own 
partial calculations. It is probable the majority on either side 
will not exceed 3, 4, 5, or 6. I indulge a belief that at this 
time the friends of the Constitution have the advantage in point 
of number. Great moderation, as yet, marks our proceedings. 
Whether it be the effect of temper, or of the equality of forces 
and the uncertainty of victory, will be seen by the event. We 

are at present on the Executive Department. Mr. H y has 

not made any opposition to it, though it was looked for. He 
may, however, still mean to make one, or he may lay by for an 
exertion against the Judiciary. 

I find myself not yet restored, and extremely feeble. 

With my affect regards, I remain, yrs. 


RICHMOND, June 20th, 1788. 

HON D SIR, No question has yet been taken by which the 
strength of parties can be determined. The calculations on 
different sides do not accord, each making them under the bias 
of their particular wishes. I think, however, the friends of the 
Constitution are most confident of superiority, and am inclined 
myself to think they have, at this time, the advantage of 3 or 4, 
or possibly more, in point of number. The final question will 
probably decide the contest in a few days more. We are now 
on the Judiciary Department, against which the last efforts of 
the adversaries seem to be made. How far they will be able to 
make an impression, I cannot say. It is not probable that many 
proselytes will be made on either side. As this will be handed 
to you at Court, you can make its contents known to Major 

1788. LETTERS. 401 

Moore and other friends, to whom I have not time separately 
to write. 

With my regards to my mother and the family, I remain, your 
affectionate son. 


RICHMOND, June 23rd, 1788. 

DEAR SIR, We got through the Constitution hy paragraphs 
to-day. To-morrow, some proposition for closing the "business 
will be made. On our side, a ratification, involving a few de 
claratory truths not affecting its validity, will be tendered. 
The opposition will urge previous amendments. Their conver 
sation to-day seemed to betray despair. Col. Mason, in par 
ticular, talked in a style which no other sentiment could have 
produced. He held out the idea of civil convulsions as the 
effects of obtruding the Government on the people. He was 
answered by several, and concluded with declaring his deter 
mination for himself, to acquiesce in the event whatever it might 
be. Mr. Henry endeavored to gloss what had fallen from his 
friend; declared his aversion to the Constitution to be such that 
lie could not take the oath; but that he would remain in peace 
able submission to the result. We calculate on a majority, but 
a bare one. It is possible, nevertheless, that some adverse cir 
cumstance may happen. 

I am, dear Sir, in haste, yrs entirely. 


RICHMOND, June 25, 1788. 

DEAR SIR, On the question to-day for previous amend 
ments, the votes stood 80 ayes, 88 noes. On the final question, 
the ratification passed 89 ayes. 79 noes. Subsequent amend 

VOL. i. 26 

402 WORKS OF MADISON. 1788. 

inents will attend the act, but are yet to be settled. The tem 
per of the minority will be better known to-morrow. The pro 
ceedings have been without flaw, or pretext of it, and there is 
no doubt that acquiescence, if not cordiality, will be manifested 
by the unsuccessful party. Two of the leaders, however, betray 
the effect of the disappointment, so far as it is marked in their 

In haste, yrs. 


RICHMOND, June 27, 17S8. 

DEAR SIR, The Convention came to a final adjournment to 
day. The inclosed is a copy of their act of ratification, with 
the yeas and nays. A variety of amendments have been since 
recommended, several of them highly objectionable, but which 
could not be parried. The minority are to sign an address this 
evening, which is announced to be of a peace-making complex 
ion. Having not seen it, I can give no opinion of my own. 1 

wish it may not have a further object. Mr. H y declared, 

pi^evious to the final question, that altho he should submit as a 
quiet citizen, he should seize the first moment that offered for 
shaking off the yoke in a constitutional ivay. I suspect the plan 
will be to engage f of the Legislatures in the task of undoing 
the work; or to get a Congress appointed in the first instance 
that will commit suicide on their own authority. 
Yrs, most affect 7 and respectfully. 

1788. LETTERS. 403 


NEW YORK, July 21, 1788. 

DEAR SIR, I have deferred writing since my arrival here in 
the hourly hope of being enabled to communicate the final news 
from Poughkeepsie. By a letter from Hamilton, dated the day 
before yesterday, I find that it is equally uncertain when the 
business will be closed, and what will be its definitive form. 
The inclosed gazette states the form which the depending prop 
osition bears. It is not a little strange that the anti-federal 
party should be reduced to such an expedient, and yet be able 
to keep their numbers together in the opposition. Nor is it 
less strange that the other party, as appears to be the case, 
should hesitate in deciding that the expedient as effectually 
keeps the State, for the present, out of the new union as the most 
unqualified rejection could do. The intelligent citizens see 
clearly that this would be its operation, and are agitated by the 
double motives of federalism and a zeal to give this City a fair 
chance for the first meeting of the new Government. 

Congress have deliberated in part on the arrangements for 
putting the new machine into operation, but have concluded on 
nothing but the times for choosing electors, &c. Those who 
wish to make New York the place of meeting studiously pro 
mote delay. Others who are not swayed by this consideration 
do not urge dispatch. They think it would be well to let as 
many States as possible have an opportunity of deciding on the 
Constitution; and what is of more consequence, they wish to 
give opportunities, where they can take place, for as many elec 
tions of State Legislatures as can precede a reasonable time for 
making the appointments and arrangements referred to them. 
If there be too great an interval between the acts of Congress 
on this subject and the next election or next meeting of a State 
Legislature, it may afford a pretext for an intermediate sum 
moning of the existing members, who are everywhere less fede 
ral than their successors hereafter to be elected will probably 
be. This is particularly the case in Maryland, where the anti- 
federal temper of the Executive would render an intermediate 

404 WORKS OF MADISON. 1788. 

and extraordinary meeting of the Assembly of that State the 
more likely to be called. On my way thro Maryland I ibund 
such an event to be much feared by the friends, and wished by 
the adversaries, of the Constitution. We have no late news 
from Europe, nor anything from North Carolina. 

With every sentiment of esteem and attachment, I remain. D r 
Sir, your obed 1 and affect, serv 1 . 


NEW YORK. 24th July, , 188. 

DEAR SIR, Your two last unacknowledged favors w jre of 
December 20 and February 6. They were received in Virginia, 
and no opportunity, till the present precarious one by tt e way 
of Holland, has enabled me to thank you for them. 

I returned here about ten days ago from Richmond, which I 
left a day or two after the dissolution of the Convention. The 
final question on the new Government was put on the 25th of 
June. It was two-fold: 1. Whether previous amendments 
should be made a condition of ratification. 2. Directly on the 
Constitution, in the form it bore. On the first, the decision was 
in the negative, 88 being no, 80 only ay. On the second and 
definitive question, the ratification was affirmed by 89 ayes 
against 79 noes. A number of alterations were then recom 
mended to be considered in the mode pointed out in the Consti 
tution itself. The meeting was remarkably full: two members 
only being absent, and those known to be on the opposite sides 
of the question. The debates, also, were conducted on the 
whole with a very laudable moderation and decorum, and con 
tinued until both sides declared themselves ready for the ques 
tion. And it may be safely concluded that no irregular oppo 
sition to the System will follow in that State, at least with the 
countenance of the leaders on that side. What local erup 
tions may be occasioned by ill-timed or rigorous executions of 


the Treaty of peace against British debtors, I will not pretend 
to say. But although the leaders, particularly Henry and 
Mason, will give no countenance to popular violences, it is not 
to be inferred that they are reconciled to the event, or will give 
it a positive support. On the contrary, both of them declared 
they could not go that length, and an attempt was made under 
their auspices to induce the minority to sign v an address to the 
people, which, if it had not been defeated by the general mod 
eration of the party, would probably have done mischief. 

Among a variety of expedients employed by the opponents to 
to gain proselytes, Mr. Henry first, and after him Col. Mason, 
introduced the opinions expressed in a letter from you to a cor 
respondent, [Mr. Donald or Skipwith, I believe,] and endeav 
ored to turn the influence of your name even against parts oi 
which I knew you approved. In this situation, I thought it 
due to truth, as well as that it would be most agreeable to your 
self, and accordingly took the liberty to state some of your 
opinions on the favorable side. I am informed that copies or 
extracts of a letter from you were handed about at the Mary 
land Convention, with a like view of impeding the ratification. 

New Hampshire ratified the Constitution on the 20 ult,, and 
made the ninth State. The votes stood 57 for, and 46 against 
the measure. South Carolina had previously ratified by a very 
great majority. The Convention of North Carolina is now sit 
ting. At one moment, the sense of that State was considered 
as strongly opposed to the system. It is now said that the tide 
has been for some time turning, which, with the example of 
other States, and particularly of Virginia, prognosticates a rati 
fication there also. The Convention of New York has been in 
session ever since the 17th ultimo, without having yet arrived 
at any final vote. Two-thirds of the members assembled with 
a determination to i eject the Constitution, and are still opposed 
to it in their hearts. The local situation of New York, the 
number of ratifying States, and the hope of retaining the fed 
eral Government in this City, afford, however, powerful argu 
ments to such men as Jay, Hamilton, the Chancellor, Duane, 
arid several others; and it is not improbable that some form of 

406 WORKS OF MADISON. 1788. 

ratification will yet be devised, by which the dislike of the op 
position may be gratified, and the State, notwithstanding, made 
a member of the new Union. 

-If # #*## 

July Sftth. We just hear that the Convention of this State 
have determined, by a small majority, to exclude from the rati 
fication anything involving a condition, and to content them 
selves with recommending the alterations wished for. 

Crops in Virginia, of all sorts, were very promising when I 
left the State. This was the case also generally throughout the 
States I passed through, with local exceptions, produced in the 
wheat fields by a destructive insect, which goes under the name 
of the Hessian fly. It made its first appearance several years ago 
on Long Island, from which it has spread over half this State 
and a great part of New Jersey, and seems to be making an 
annual progress in every direction. 


NEW YOKE, July 27th, 1788. 


After a very tedious discussion, the Constitution has been 
ratified by the Convention of this State. It was carried by a 
majority of 5, the ayes being 30, the noes 25. Amendments, in 
general, similar to those of